Media is comparatively a young industry in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi media suffer from low ethical standards and a lack of qualified journalists resulting in poor overall quality of the media. This leaves the public deprived of accurate and relevant information. On a regional scale, the lack of journalistic skills and training is even bigger, not many journalists (and citizens), know about the details of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and about their right to gather information for investigative journalism.
In addition, both access to information and participation in media remain problems in rural communities. High illiteracy rates (50% of our people are illiterate) and a large number of drop-outs are among the potential causes for low levels of access to information and participation in media.
85% of the Bangladeshi population lives in rural areas. These areas lag far behind in terms of development, exemplified by lack of basic services such as education, health clinics, infrastructure and electricity. As the voice of rural citizens is not reflected in mainstream media, they have less opportunity of participation in the developmental process of their respective locality and remain isolated. Despite the recent media boom in Bangladesh, rural citizens continue to have very limited access to media. In 2004, 35.9% of rural people did not have regular access to Radio, TV, Newspapers or magazines and were therefore effectively “media dark” (on an average 28.5% in Bangladesh).The situation is the worst in the case of women. They have limited access to sources of information and income and their participatory levels in government, decision-making and the economy are very low as well. BNNRC is concerned with the above situation since its inception.
However, licensing of new television stations and of community radio in 2009 and strategies to stimulate the active use by media and by the wider public of their right to information (e.g.govt’s recent formation of Information Commission) are important steps from the govt. BNNRC, since its inception in 2000, is involved in policy advocacy with the govt.decision-makers to formulate a Community Radio Policy and Right to Information Act.
In subsequent years, the organization has been involved to develop the capacity of the Community Radio Initiators (presently 14) throughout the country, with its limited resources. BNNRC is convinced with the fact that access to information and participation in media are essential for the community development. Therefore by its present interventions, BNNRC is trying to promote community media and improve the skills of the involved professionals in the sector and thus provide a platform for rural citizens (the voiceless community) and media practitioners to raise their issues, to ensure their right to information and take effective part in public debate.
This is an undeniable fact that BNNRC lacks resources and capacity to address the above issues effectively, although it has its vision and commitment to work for the cause. BNNRC hereby submits this proposal basing on this context and argument.