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Draft law cleared with jail time for airing lies on talk shows

  • Published at 05:28 pm October 15th, 2018
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The Broadcast Law 2018 will be framed following consultation with all stakeholders, says the Cabinet secretary Bigstock

The aim of the Broadcast Law 2018 is to bring discipline in broadcast media, says the Cabinet secretary

The Cabinet on Sunday approved in principle the draft of “Broadcast Law 2018,” with provisions for jail terms and fines for a total of 24 offences, which include presenting and airing ‘misleading and false’ information on talk shows.

The maximum punishment for these offences committed via any television channel, radio station or online media will be a three-year imprisonment or Tk5 crore as fine or both, reports UNB.

The similar offences include broadcasting programs that goes against the spirit of the Liberation War and fundamentals, ideology and policy of the state;violation of directives of different national important programs such as the speech of the heads of the state and the government; and emergency weather notices.

In case of continuation of such a crime, the accused person will have to pay Tk1 lakh as fine every day.

According to the draft law, which was approved at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Secretariat,a seven-member Broadcast Commission will be formed to provide licences to broadcast media, including online ones.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam said that law’s aim was to bring discipline in broadcasting.

As per the law, he said, a five-member search committee will place its report before the president to form the commission, and the president in turn will appoint the members, including a chairman and with at least a female member.

"This new law has been framed following consultations with all stakeholders. It has been placed [in the Cabinet] to bring the broadcast media, including the online ones, under discipline," he said.

The Broadcast Commission will have unilateral authority to issue or revoke licences of broadcast media, he added. But it will have to take permission first from the government before issuing any licence.

The commission will have to dispose of any complaint against any media house within 30 days after receiving it, and will have the authority to suspend or revoke the licence of any media house on seven grounds.

The licence will have to be renewed by paying a fee to be fixed as per the rules, Shafiul said.

If anyone is declared as deranged or bankrupt, or sentenced to maximum two years' jail, or identified as a loan defaulter, or anyone fails to meet the standards to be fixed by the commission will be disqualified to get the broadcast media licence, he said.

He said that if anyone, who has no qualification to have such licence, continues to run a broadcast outlet, he/she will face maximum seven years in jail or a Tk5-crore fine or both.

The Cabinet secretary said the offences will be non-cognisable and non-bailable, and police will be able to arrest anyone without any warrant.

Other bills and laws

The Cabinet on Monday also cleared – 

Mass Media Employees (Services Conditions) Law 2018

Draft of Cost and Management Accountants Bill 2018

Plant Variety Protection Bill 2018

Draft of Bangladesh Rehabilitation Council Bill 2018

National Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy 2018

Apart from these, the Cabinet approved a proposal to mark October 6 as the Birth Registration Day every year.