Regional broadcasting centres in 14 districts are not operating fully from April due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) shutdown
The regional station of Bangladesh Betar in Rangpur has been operating on a meager scale for the past few months from April, leaving local radio artists in financial crisis.
Dr Harunur Rashid, director of Rangpur region of the Bangladesh Betar, said Bangladesh Betar regional broadcasting centres in 14 districts are not operating fully from April due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) shutdown upon orders from the higher authorities.
"We only broadcast a few programs for two hours. Local news and other regular programs are suspended," said Harunur.
When Harunur was asked if radio artists are in financial crisis because of the restricted operations in the radio station, he confirmed that it is a fact. "The whole matter was informed to the higher authorities."
Seeking anonymity, an official at the radio station said: "People need mass media more during this time of crisis as it is important to raise awareness regarding the coronavirus and its transmission.
"The decision of suspending broadcast of all news through the channel is excessive," said the official, adding that most people in the Ministry of Information may not be aware of the matter.
Before the shutdown triggered by Covid-19, the regional station of Bangladesh Betar in Rangpur broadcasted local news four times daily.
The station had thousands of audiences for these news programs and other cultural programs, which was mostly popular in rural parts of the district, according to sources from the regional station.
Bhawaiya songs and programs hosted in regional accents are two of the most popular categories offered by the station.
Similarly, 13 other Bangladesh Betar regional stations that are not fully operating are located in: Thakurgaon, Rajshahi, Khulna, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Sylhet, Comilla, Barisal, Rangamati, Bandarban, Gopalganj, and Mymensingh.
When contacted over phone ASM Zahid, director of Thakurgaon district Bangladesh Betar station, said: "The local news broadcasting is on halt but few programs are being broadcasted on a small scale. We are broadcasting the national news upon relaying it from Dhaka."
Dr Tuhin Wadud, assistant professor of Bangla in Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur (BRUR), said the stations should broadcast local news and other Covid-19 awareness raising programs through maintaining distancing and taking transmission preventive steps at the stations.