Friday, December 21, 2007

Mass Media in Bangladesh: A Brief Overview

After 1990, in a changed global economic and political situation, the scenario of Bangladeshi media was also changed as consistent with global and regional media scenario. Globalization demands market liberalization along with the liberalization of media as well. In that process, though the government of Bangladesh always heavily controlled the state owned radio and television channels but, in the early 90s, they gave permission to broadcast the satellite channels commercially. As a result, Bangladeshi audience was flooded by immense of foreign television channels, which had only the experience of Bangladesh Television (BTV) before 1990s.

The electronic media of Bangladesh is expansive at the moment. Now there are eight private satellite channels, which broadcast entertainment programs and news, in general. There are two FM radio channels, major programs of which are music and news. In media discourse, community radio is a much-talked issue but the government is yet to give permission of any community radio. According to the National Media Survey (NMS) in 1998, the national reach of the various media was radio 39%, television 42%, newspapers/magazines 15%, and cinema 17%. (Chowdhury, 2003: 107)

Just after the landmark of 1990, there was a ‘boom’ of print media. In 1990, the beginning of globalization and ending of direct and indirect military rule, of more than one decade, occurred simultaneously. On December 6, 1990, the first Caretaker Government, which was formed to arrange a free and fair election in the process of democratization, withdrew a newspaper control regulation from Special Powers Act, 1974. With this step, obtaining registration for a newspaper became easier. In a country of 130 millions of people, though only about 1.3 million of copies of newspapers are sold daily, there were 300 dailies in Bangladesh at the end of the millennium. (BCDJC, 2003: 4) For electronic media, there was one TV and another radio channel owned by the government. But for print media, it is an all-private-ownership show, mostly by corporate companies, which replaced politicians.

According to NMS in 1998, 15% of population read newspaper at least once a week. But newspaper reading is still an urban habit. Around half of city dwellers (44%) read newspapers against 10% in rural areas. (Chowdhury, 2003: 107) According to a study conducted by the Press Institute of Bangladesh in 1994, the findings of which were released in 1998, only 12% of the readerships consider newspapers to be credible and about 55% believe that there is a freedom of expression. The factors here include government intervention, pre-censorship, political pressure, obstacles put forward by different quarters, lack of neutral outlook and dependence of newspapers on government advertisements. (Rahman and Ahmed, 2004)

Although Article 39 (2) of Bangladesh constitution guarantees (a) the right of every citizen to freedom of speech and expression and (b) freedom of the press, there are 20 constraining laws, including Official Secrets Act, designed to repress freedom of expression. The specific areas of restrictions are related to the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. After the strong demand of journalists and civil society, the government has decided to introduce Right to Information Act in 2007.

However, since 1990, Bangladeshi newspapers enjoy moderate level of press freedom as per the government control is concerned. But the electronic media is deprived of enjoying that freedom. Not only the state owned BTV or Bangladesh Betar (the radio channel), private TV channels are also under close supervision of the government. In 2007, the military backed present Caretaker Government, which took power on January 11, 2007 after series of political violence, ruled a state of emergency and the media went again under control and lost the gained freedom.

Press freedom in Bangladesh is also restrained by physical harassment of journalists in Bangladesh. Six journalists were killed and 282 injured, mostly the local reporters, in attacks across the country in three years till December 2003. (Rahman, 2004: 7) According to a study by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), Bangladesh’s position is the 118th in terms of press freedom and it is because ‘political parties constantly endanger the lives of journalists’. (Rahman, 2004: 8) The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on March 5, 2004 described Bangladesh as the most violent country for newspersons in Asia. (Rahman, 2004: 71) Besides governmental control by laws and strict watch and physical harassment against journalists, corporate control by advertising and other media business related matters, restricts media to perform proper journalism.


Chowdhury, Afsan (2004). Media in Times of Crisis: National and International Issues. Shrabon. Dhaka.
Rahman, Golam and Ahmed, Helal Uddin (2004). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Multimedia CD. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Dhaka.
BCDJC (Bangladesh Centre For Development, Journalism and Communication) (2003); Madhyam (Bangladesh Media Directory); BCDJC; Dhaka.
Rahman, Mahfuzur (2004). The State of Media in Bangladesh. News Network. Dhaka.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reporting on HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh: Media Content Analysis

While HIV/AIDS is a key health issue in the world, the role of media is very important to create awareness against the fatal disease. In several studies in the area of communication, it was found that mass media can be used for informing and awareness building of any issue, though interpersonal level of communication could be the best way for persuasion and behavioral change of people. On the other hand, the capacity of mass media in influencing behavior is no less important in respect to its cost-effective nature and its cumulative effect on the population. For Bangladesh, standing in the edge of the risk of spreading HIV/AIDS in epidemic form, awareness building program through mass media could play very important role. For that, in spite of program taken by GOs and NGOs, it is important to examine the content and standard of reporting in mass media of Bangladesh in the area of HIV/AIDS. As there was no comprehensive study in the area of above mentioned topic, this study is going to explore some aspects in the area, though it may bear some limitations.

Bangladesh and HIV/AIDS
Bangladesh is said to be a country of low prevalence but high risk for HIV/AIDS. The first HIV/AIDS case was detected in the country in 1989. Bangladesh has a population of around 14 million. According to Bangladesh government, in this country the number of people living with AIDS (PLWHAs) are only 500, by December 2004, a total of 465 people were confirmed as HIV positive 87 of whom developed AIDS and among them 44 have died. But WHO said there are 20,000 HIV infected persons in Bangladesh and according to UNICEF the figure is 15,000.
Some important high-risk factors for spread of HIV in Bangladesh are: poverty and population density, highly affected neighboring countries with HIV/AIDS, inadequate awareness among high risk group and general population, high external and internal migration, unsafe blood transfusion and injection practices, significant number of people have pre or extra marital sex etc.
Bangladesh government has taken National AIDS/STD Program (NASP) to reduce the spread of HIV and impact of AIDS for the high-risk group as well as the general population of Bangladesh by undertaking targeted interventions among the high-risk groups and making general population aware about HIV/AIDS.

Print Media in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has a very extensive and relatively free print media, comprising of 990 publications among which, there are 328 dailies. The newspaper readership among the total population is 26%. (BCDJC, 2004) Just after the landmark of 1990, when Bangladesh entered into a democratic process after an urban-based revolution against an autocratic government, there was a ‘boom’ of print media. Even now, two or three newspapers are adding themselves in the row every year. Though Bangladesh is a country of 140 millions of people, only about 1.3 million of copies of newspapers are sold daily. (BCDJC, 2004)
There is no in-depth study so far of the media coverage on HIV/AIDS issue, but it is very much evident that Bangladeshi media covers the issue frequently as the Bangladesh government and NGOs are working on the issue for years. But the standard and depth of the news stories are yet to examine.

Methodology and Objective
In this research, all HIV/AIDS related news items (282 items) published between July-October 2005 in 17 local newspapers (9 of which in local language and 8 in English) of Bangladesh, have been analyzed where quantitative data are provided on aspects such as story subject matter, length, placement in newspaper, source of the item and inclusion of PLWHA viewpoints. The time period for examining HIV/AIDS reporting in Bangladeshi newspapers was selected in random basis with the expectation that all items of almost all leading newspapers published in any quarter of a year would be representative enough to get an impression about the content and qualitative standard of the reporting.
The objective of the media content surveys, conducted between July-October 2005, was to gain a deeper understanding of the frequency and quality of local reporting on HIV/AIDS and in particular to investigate the use of language and inaccuracies in the reporting.
A random selection of the collected stories is also qualitatively assessed. Stories are evaluated on both journalistic quality and on their HIV/AIDS content.

Quantitative Analysis of Data
• English newspapers publish more news than Bangla newspapers, but their sources of news on HIV/AIDS are heavily external. For example, The New Nation has published as many as 47 items but only 5 of them were from internal sources. But though Bangla newspapers publish a few number of news on HIV/AIDS, they try to publish those from internal sources.
• Out of 6 1st page news, a Bangla newspaper named Bhorer Kagojpublishes 4 of them, though 3 of them were of single column. The poor number of 1st page news depicts the newspaper houses don’t consider HIV/AIDS a key health issue of the time.
• Among English newspapers, The New Nation published maximum number of news (43) and The New Age published minimum number of news (9) on HIV/AIDS. The news Today (26), The Bangladesh Today (26), The Independent (33) and The Bangladesh Observer (34) also published significant number of news item on HIV/AIDS. Among Bangla newspapers, The Bhorer Kagoj published maximum number of news (19) and The Ajker Kagoj published minimum number of news (3) on HIV/AIDS.
• Apart from news, there have been published a total number of 22 comments and features. But Out of 22 there were only 3 editorials, which reflects sort of policy level negligence on HIV/AIDS issue.
• Though the leading English and Bangla daily The Daily Star (11) and The Prothom Alo (4) published very few number of news item, but the news of these two newspapers were comparatively elaborative, in-depth and by-lined.

Qualitative analysis
For qualitative analysis, 17 news (2 foreign stories included) have been selected from 17 newspapers. Although a significant number of stories (13.5%) were too brief (of 1 column and 1 paragraph) and those stories were badly written (i.e. the content just describe ‘seminar/workshop/round table meeting held’, doesn’t describe what was found/said/discussed in that meeting), for qualitative analysis comparatively important and bigger news have been selected in random basis.
The sample were scored for:
• Story construction (newsworthiness, structure, lead well written, answers who what where why when); provides background.
• Story content (accuracy, reporters views absent; information correctly attributed); provides a full and fair picture; information is clear; quotes used effectively); tone is appropriate;
• HIV/AIDS related content (avoids stigmatizing language; coverage of PLWHA empowering rather than victimizing; information is accurate; local voices appropriately used.
• Presentation (headline well written; layout good; appropriate length)
The researcher scored a random selection if 17 better stories as follows :
• Average score on overall quality: 71.5%
• Story construction: 75.3%
• Story content: 75.3%
• HIV/AIDS related content: 61.2%
• Presentation: 72.9%

General Trends in HIV/AIDS Reporting in Bangladesh
While HIV/AIDS appears as a topic fairly regularly in print media of Bangladesh, the coverage lacks breadth and depth and some key aspects of the issue rarely appear or are absent. A significant amount of inaccurate and stigmatizing terminology appears in the reporting and viewpoints of PLWHA are barely covered. General story-writing standards are weak (for example story construction, accuracy, and writing the lead) though some stories were found in standard. It was also noticed that little independent research by journalists is evident; journalists tend to rely heavily on news releases from government, NGOs and foreign news agencies for their stories, rather than taking the initiative to investigate the issue independently.

Given the great social, economic and human suffering costs the HIV/AIDS, the results suggests that the Bangladeshi press is still significantly under and inadequately reporting the issues.

The press in Bangladesh needs to develop and focus on:
• Improving awareness and usage of non-stigmatizing terminology (glossary provision and distribution).
• Improving awareness around the relationship with PLWHA with a view to increasing their voice and reducing stigma.
• Improving journalists general knowledge and interest around HIV/AIDS issues and pointing towards potential story angles, tailored to particular country situation.
• Avoiding publishing news taken from external sources and providing staff articles for meaningful coverage.
• Strengthening general journalism skills (writing, story construction and development, etc)
• Encouraging the writing of features, editorial, the practice of independent research.

BCDJC (Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication) (2004); Madhyam (Bangladesh Media Directory); Dhaka: BCDJC.

Note: This is an excerpt from a research article of the same title conducted by Fahmidul Haq.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Top 20 Film Directors of Bangladesh

1. Zahir Raihan (Stop Genocide, 1971)
2. Alamgir Kabir (Dhire Bahe Meghna, 1973)
3. Salahuddin (Surjasnan, 1962)
4. Suvash Dutt (Dumurer Phool, 1978)
5. Sheikh Niamat Ali (Surja Dighal Bari, 1979, with Masihuddin Shaker)
6. Khan Ataur Rahman (Abar Tora Manoosh Ho, 1973)
7. Humayun Ahmed (Shrabon Megher Din, 1999)
8. Chashi Nazrul Islam (Ora Egaro Jon, 1972)
9. Amjad Hossain (Golapi Ekhon Trene, 1978)
10. Kabir Anwar (Suprovat, 1976)
11. Tareque Masud (Matir Moina, 2002)
12. Catherine Masud (Ontorjatra, 2006, with Tareque Masud)
13. Morshedul Islam (Chaka, 1993)
14. Abu Sayeed (Shankhonad, 2004)
15. Tanvir Mokammel (Chitra Nadir Pare, 1999)
16. Touqir Ahmed (Joyjatra, 2005)
17. Nurul Alam Atiq (Choturtha Matra, 2002)
18. Shahin Dil-Reaz (Jibon Jole Bele, 2001)
29. Yasmin Kabir (Swadhinota, 2002)
20. Mostofa Sarwar Farooqi (Bachelor, 2003)

[Directors made more than one film have been considered for the list. The list doesn’t follow any order of choice]

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Film of Bangladesh

Bangladesh has a medium sized film industry that produces around 90 feature films annually and those films are screened in more than 800 theatres all over the country. Bangladesh had started producing ‘industry films’ from 1956 when it was the eastern part of Pakistan. But the earliest filmmaker of Bangladesh is Hiralal Sen who is a man from Manikganj, Bangladesh (the then East Bengal) and made Loumiere Brothers-like one-reelers in Kolkata at the end of 19th century and who can be considered even the fist filmmaker of Indian Sub-continent. From the very beginning, the film industry of Bangladesh had been producing films that blend art and commercial elements and flavors. Later, the art elements disappeared gradually and commercial elements grabbed the industry films totally.

Simultaneously in the mid 1980s a new stream of independent films of Bangladesh has been introduced to the mediascape of the country which is popularly known as alternative films, primarily which were short in length. Albeit limited in numbers and distribution, these independent films are accepted by the urban middle class viewers. Individual producers, TV channels and external sources are investing in the films of some reputed independent filmmakers. On the other hand, being branded as the films of ‘poor taste’, the industry films are not getting back their investments and struggling for their existence. Many cinema halls have been shut down and some others planning to as the business seems to be a loosing concern. While yet not financially profitable independent streams are still continuing to produce ‘good’ films. Zahir Raihan and Alamgir Kabir can be named as the most prominet filmmakers of 1960s and 1970s respectively. Salahuddin, Subhash Dutt, Amjad Hossain, Chashi Nazrul Islam are some other filmamers of early part of film history of Bangladesh though some of them are still continuing filmmaking. On the other hand Tareque Masud, Catherine Masud, Morshedul Islam, Tanvir Mokammel and Abu Sayeed are leading independent filmmakers of Bangladesh. Some eminent filmmakers from India also made films in Bangladesh. Ritwik Ghatak, Rajen Tarafdar, Goutom Ghosh, Basu Chaterjee are some names among them.

Some prominent films of Bangladesh are: Surjasnan (1962) by Salahuddin, Nadi O Nari (1965) by Sadeq Khan, Stop Genocide (1971) by Zahir Raihan, Ora Egaro Jon (1972) by Chashi Nazrul Islam, Dhire Bahe Meghna (1973) by Alamgir Kabir, Titas Ekti Nadir Naam (1973) by Ritwik Ghatak, Basundhara (1977) by Subhash Dutt, Golapi Akhon Traine (1978) by Amjad Hossain, Surjo Dighal Bari (1979) by Masihuddin Shaker and Sheikh Niamat Ali, Chaka (1993) by Morshedul Islam, Chitra Nadir Pare (1999) by Tanvir Mokammel, Matir Moina (2002) by Tareque Masud, Shankhonaad (2004) by Abu Sayeed.

Independent Film of Bangladesh

There is debate about the starting point of independent filmmaking of Bangladesh. One noted film commenter and filmmaker Manjare Hassin Murad likes to count Stop Genocide (1971), the documentary made by Zahir Raihan, the greatest filmmaker in 1960s as the first independent film in Bangladesh. The film was funded by newly formed Expatriate Government of Bangladesh staying in India while the country was battling with West Pakistan Army. Some other critics like Zakir Hossain Raju identified Suryo Dighal Bari (The Ominous House, 1979) as the first independent cinema which was the first film funded by Bangladesh Government after independence in 1971 and it was made within the production and distribution network by Film Development Corporation (FDC), the only major studio in Bangladesh. The film brought first international success in post liberation era though it experienced different constraints in releasing and screening in theatres at home.

But most of the film buffs consider Agami (Time Ahead, 1984) as the starting point of independent filmmaking. Because for critical and commercial success of Agami, independent filmmaking arrives as a movement. The movement was popularly known as ‘short film movement’ and later as ‘alternative film movement’. The movement got the shape after both critical and commercial success of Agami by Morshedul Islam and Hulyia (Wanted, 1984) by Tanvir Mokammel. Agami got the silver peacock in the best director category in Delhi International Film Festival. Hulyia also got admirations of critics and audience. These films were funded by directors themselves with support of friends and family members and were shown outside cinema theatres: among the friends, local groups, especially among the students of college and universities and cultural activists. The directors were involved in the entire process of the filmmaking: writing scripts, funding, making and screening. These two films were shown together in different corners of the country and these are real examples of independent films: low and independent funds, alternative distribution channels, shot in 16 mm, without any studio involvement and commercial motives and in content, very much related with national culture and politics. With this set standard and format, a lot of young makers came forward later and a movement started.

However, while the contemporary mainstream films have failed to achieve any accolades at home or abroad; directors of the independent genre such as, Tareque and Catherine Masud, Tanvir Mokammel, Morshedul Islam and Abu Sayeed have gained national and international recognition. Matir Moina by Tareque Masud is the most famous independent film and also the most prominent film so far from Bangladesh. Some other good independent films of Bangladesh are: Chaka (1993) and Khelaghar (2006) by Morshedul Islam, Chitra Nadir Pare (1999) and Lalsalu (2001) by Tanvir Mokammel, Shankhonaad (2004) and Nirontor (2007) by Abu Sayeed, Muktir Gaan (1995), Ontorjatra (2006) by Tareque and Catherine Masud, Swapnodanai (2007) by Golam Robbani Biplob.

Khelaghar (Doll House, 2006) by Morshedul Islam

In July 1971, there live two friends Yakub and Mukul in a far-flunge village of Bangladesh. They are teachers in profession, Yakub in the village college and Mukul in school. Yakub by nature is a cowardly and confused person. Though he loves his country no less, he has not joined the liberation army for his personal misapprehension. Mukul in contrast has linked himself with the war though not actively. Giving assistance to the freedom fighters has been his main preoccupation. Rehana comes to the village along with the other refugees from the city. She is sister of Yakub’s friend Tunu who requested him in a letter to give her shelter for a few days. In the army crackdown night on March 25, 1971, she was staying in a hall of Dhaka university and was taken by army in a camp. She was raped there and released after some days of captive period. Physical torture by Pakistani Army resulted psychic breakdown on her. But both Yakub and Mukul were not informed about this background of Rehana, they decided to keep Rehana in an abandoned house at a corner of the village and Yakub to be stayed with her. Locked by monsoon water and trees and bushes a story of anguish and love between two young man and woman unfolds in a dilapidated old but palace-like house. They made up a dollhouse by playing, gossiping, cooking together. The dollhouse breaks down after three days when Tunu comes in the scene, tells Rehana’s mishap-story and takes Rehana back. Yakob joins with a guerrilla group.
Based on a novel by prominent writer Mahmudul Haq and with very elegant photography, the film deals with the ethnic struggle towards the formation Bengali-Muslim identity. It also constructs a unique identity of gender where woman becomes the ultimate victim of war.
The film was released in April, 2006 and screened in several international festivals.

Kittonkhola (2000) by Abu Sayeed

There was a village fair in the bank of the river Kittonkhola. Shoppers have brought different kinds of products in their temporary shops which can attract customers. The girls from gypsy tribe Bede have anchored their fleet of boats near the fair to sell their items like wrist-rings, ribbons and offers of exorcism in the fair. The main attraction of the fair is a Jatra troupe ‘Adi Mahua Opera’. Gambling and local narcotics have been brought as the part of the fair. Idu Contractor, the feudal lord of the village is the organizer and owner of the fair.
A simple and easy youth Sonai falls in love with Bede-girl Dalimon at the first sight. On the other hand, Idu Contractor wants Banasreebala, the actress of the Jatra troupe in his bed. The owner of the troupe Subal Das agrees with Idu to send Banasreebala, who has joined the troupe from brothel for a better life. The actor Ravi Das and Chhaya protest against Subal and asked him not to send her to Idu. Both the actors love Banasreebala and the actress also dreams to marry someone. But an actress with brothel and Jatra background cannot find her way of better life. She commits suicide and the simple villager Sonai as well doesn’t get the Bede-girl Dalimon because of rigid caste system maintained by Bede leaders. Meanwhile Sonai looses all his money and lands in the gambling by the conspiracy of Idu who sees Sonai’s lands lucrative. Jatra troupe members like Chhaya, who are predominantly Hindu in religion, wants to join majority Muslims by converting himself and Bede members, who are predominantly Muslims, want to leave their boat-life for better life.
Based on a play by eminent play-writer Selim Al Din, Kittonkhola deals with the identity struggle of villagers, Bede-Caste people and Jatra-troup members, especially their ethnic, religious and gender identity has been constructed in the film.
The film received national awards in nine categories including best film and best director.

Lalsalu (Tree Without Root, 2001) by Tanvir Mokammel

In a remote aggregation village, suddenly a haggard-looking Mullah named Majid appears. He cleans up an old dilapidated grave and by declaring it as the shrine of a famous Pir (a holy and spiritual man) begins to worship it. The shrine, over the years, provides Majid not only economic solvency but psychological domination over the community as well. From a vagabond desperado, he becomes a man well rooted in the society. He marries Rahima, a not-so-young but hard working peasant woman who though robustly built, remains a docile wife. But as Majid’s wealth and power increases he feels the need of a younger wife. He marries Jamila, a teenaged girl ultimately becomes the nemesis for Majid. And the Mother Nature, in the form of deluge, finally strikes the shrine as Majid oversteps the boundaries of humanity.
Based on popular novel by the prominent writer Syed Waliullah, the film deals with religious identity of rural people of Bengal. And it deals with the gender identity as well where the first wife Rahima remains silent under patriarchal domination but Jamila revolts.
The film got the special jury award in the International Film Festival, Dhaka in 2002. Also it received eight national awards including the best film and the best durector of the year 2001. The film was screened in several international film festivals and got critical admiration.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Matir Moina (The Clay Bird, 2002): A film by Tareque Masud

Set against the backdrop of the turbulent period in the late 1960s leading up to Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan, The Clay Bird tells us the story of a family torn apart by religion and war. Based on the director’s own childhood, the film follows a young boy Anu, who is sent off to a strict Islamic school, or madrasa, by his deeply religious father Kazi. As the political division in the country intensifies, an increasing split develops between the moderate and extremist forces within the madrasa, mirroring a growing divide between the stubborn but confused Kazi and his increasingly independent wife. Touching on themes of religious tolerance, cultural diversity and complexity of Islam, The Clay Bird has universal relevance in a strife-ridden world.
The Clay Bird deals with ethnic emergence of the nation Bangladesh, religious multiplicity of Islam and gender identity as well.
The film got FIPRESCI International critics’ prize in the Cannes Film Festival 2002, best film and two other awards in Karafilm Festival, Pakistan 2003, best screenplay award in Marrakesh International Film Festival, Morocco 2003 and some local awards. It was first Bangladeshi Film in Oscar Competition. It was released commercially in Europe, America and some other parts of the world and got huge critical admiration in foreign press.

Media Scenario and Pedagogy: Bangladesh Experience

New media arrives, but the impact of old media on audience is still unexamined— that is the pedagogic problem in media studies in Bangladesh. Before 1990’s, it was not felt seriously to study the impact of media on audience as there was only a radio and a television channel owned and heavily controlled by the government, 5 to 10 regular private dailies which were less professional and only remarkable role of those dailies was political activism and a film industry which produces generally low and occasionally mid-quality films. So researchers were not enthusiastic and aware enough, probably, to study these apparently harmless and less professional media. But it was their limitations also not to study extensively the print media at least, which had experience of more than 200 years. Moreover media studies were not recognized and had no good status in the academic arena for a long time.

Electronic Media: Control ‘ours’, liberalize ‘others’
After 1990, in a changed global economic and political situation, the scenario of Bangladeshi media was also changed as consistent with global and regional media scenario. Globalisation demands market liberalization and the liberalization of media also. For that, though the government always heavily controlled the state owned radio and television channels but, in the early 90s, they gave permission to broadcast commercially the satellite channels. Before that, the government even started relaying the news of BBC and CNN through the state owned channel Bangladesh Television. As a result Bangladeshi audience were flooded by Immense of foreign channels who had only the experience of BTV before 1990s. Now There are eight private satellite channels which broadcast entertainment programs, in general. There are two FM radio channels, major programs of which are music and news. In media discourse community radio is a much talked issue but the government is yet to give permission of any community radio.

Print Media: Most powerful?
Just after the landmark of 1990, there was a ‘boom’ of print media even. In a country of 130 millions of people, though only about 1.3 million of copies of newspapers are sold daily, there were 300 dailies in Bangladesh at the end of the millennium. After 1990, in an environment of globalisation, corporate companies came ahead to invest in print media. Till now, print media is the most powerful media in Bangladesh.

Film: Media at stake
Film industry of Bangladesh has about 50 years of experience and has released more than 2000 films in total and 82 in 2002. But the tradition of the industry is not glorious enough. In 1980s and 1990s the quantity of films increased but the quality of films fell down in an alarming manner. Sex and violence are essential elements of mainstream films and which are failed copies of Bollywood. But at the beginning of new millennium, some makers are coming ahead who has the experience of film society and the experience of independent cinema movement and producing quality films. Film like ‘Matir Moina’ (The Clay Bird) has achieved international recognition.

The Internet: New media, new concerns
In 1990s, like many other countries, the Internet emerged as a new media, which has been appeared in urban areas only. Mushroom growths of Cyber cafes in the city like Dhaka, Chittagong or Rajshahi proves the significant expansion of Internet in urban life, though according to the total number of people the rate of using the internet, is very low (in 2000, 60 per thousand people). But of course, it doesn’t seem unusual in an agriculture based and technologically poor country like Bangladesh.

Here comes the question of mediation, cultural intervention and feelings of studying the impact of sky and cyber cultures. But like many other countries, the impact is yet to be comprehended due to the sparse and unorganised research materials. Some small-scaled researches were done by individual researchers and also by some research institutions; but those were content analysis type of research, in general. And the goals of the research were not clear. In Bangladesh, when it was a part of Pakistan before 1971, the Radio and Television were established to use the media for development effort. For that, some researchers had their research from effect point of view. Those were not taken as the cultural practice approach (i.e. symbolic interactionism, semiology). Extensive audience research was not taken up which could identify the impact of new media and technologies.

In search of Pedagogic Possibilities
To my view, extensive audience research and also research from cultural perspectives of the content are needed to understand the nature of cultural mediation in Asia. My hypothesis is, the impact of new media would be a bit different in Bangladesh and also in other Asian countries from western countries as the eastern and Asian countries have unique and different cultural backgrounds. I want to focus on the point that, what cultures are seen in new media, are far different from the culture we practice in real life. The question is how the audience is managing the cultural gaps (the gap between real and virtual culture). If we can identify the impact of new media, we can develop/analyse alternative forms of resistance, subcultures and progressive movements, which attempt to understand issues of class, caste, gender etc in more complex and honest ways.

Favorite 10 Films of Bangladesh (Doesn't follow order)

1. Matir Moina (The Clay Bird, 2002, Tareque Masud)
2. Shankhonaad (2004, Abu Sayeed)
3. Chaka (The Wheel, 1993, Morshedul Islam)
4. Stop Genocide (1971, Zahir Raihan)
5. Chitra Nadir Pare (In the Bank of the River Chitra, 1999, Tanvir Mokammel)
6. Muktir Gaan (The Song of Freedom, 1995, Tareque and Catherine Masud)
7. Simana Perie (1977, Alamgir Kabir)
8. Joyjatra (2004, Touqir Ahmed)
9. Nadi O Nari (River and Woman, 1965, Sadeq Khan)
10. Surjo Dighal Bari (The Ominous House, 1979, Masihuddin Shaker and Sheikh Niamat Ali)