DHAKA, June 19, 2017 (BSS) -The Cabinet today approved the draft of "The National Online Mass Media Policy, 2017" that suggested constitution of a National Broadcast Commission to facilitate operations of online mass media in an organized manner.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the weekly meeting, held at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban as it gave the approval to the proposed policy containing a detailed guideline for operating online versions of mainstream media including radio, TV and newspaper.
"The draft policy has been formulated so that the online mass media of the country could work in a well organized manner upholding the national history and the spirit of the War of Liberation," Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told a media briefing after the meeting at the Bangladesh Secretariat later.
Alam said the draft policy suggested mandatory registration of the country's every single mass medium with the proposed National Broadcast Commission.
He, however, said, the online media which by now got them registered under the Press and Publications Act, 1973 would not require re-registration with the National Broadcast Commission, to be empowered with authority to frame a guideline for issuing licenses to the broadcasters.
"But, the concerned online media entities will have to inform the Commission about their earlier registration," he said.
Alam said the policy outlined a detailed guideline for smooth running of the online mass media like operating from radio, TV, newspapers and so on.
The top executive in the public service said the government, in consultation with the commission, would formulate rules of procedures later for smooth application of the Act, while the commission would be empowered to frame a guideline for giving licenses to the broadcasters.
Besides, the commission would make recommendations to the government for giving license to television, radio, internet TV or other digital broadcast stations and would issue license upon the government's approval.
As per the draft policy, the commission would receive complaints from the aggrieved persons over any content of online mass media.
Alam said, the Commission could issue "show cause" notices, initiate investigation, recommend to the government for further proceedings against broadcasters if they broadcast something in violation of the National Broadcast Policy-2014.
On its own, the commission would be able to take action against online broadcasters if it appears that they have violated the code of conduct and breached discipline, he said.
The commission would also hold the power to take punitive actions against an online broadcaster if any content of broadcast poses a threat to security, territorial integrity, peace, public order and unity of the country.
The commission could also take actions against the broadcasters for disseminating vulgar, false and malicious stuff and contents against the spirit of the War of Liberation and distorts national history and heritage.
The day's meeting of the cabinet also approved a proposal for amendment to the Nationalised Private Primary Schools (Fixation of Conditions for Services) Policy 2013.
The Cabinet Secretary said, following the amendment to the policy, the teachers of the recently nationalised private primary schools would be absorbed in the revenue sector provided they have teaching experience of 21 years or more along with Certificate-in Education course pass certificate.
The Cabinet meeting also approved in principle the draft of the 'Bangladesh Sugar (Road Development Cess) Bill, 2017.
The meeting also gave final nod to 'The Groundwater Management in Agricultural Activities Bill, 2017' updating the Ground Water Management Ordinance of 1985 after drafting in into Bangla.
Alam said that the proposed law has empowered the Upazila Parishad as this local government body would form and supervise the Upazila Irrigation Committees.
He said that after conducting infield inspections, the Upazila irrigation committees would provide licenses among the interested persons and farmers in exchange of fees which would be determined by rules.
The Upazila Parishad could also scrap licenses if the license of anyone is suspended for three times in a year.
In case of using groundwater without any license, the punishment would be maximum Tk 10,000 as fine or in default to suffer 7 days in jail.
The Cabinet meeting also approved a proposal for ratifying the 'Agreement between Bangladesh and Kingdom of Bahrain for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income'.
It also approved another proposal for ratifying the 'Agreement between Bangladesh and Kuwait for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income'.
Besides, the meeting also approved a proposal for ratifying the statute of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS), a specialised organization under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
At the very outset of the meeting, the Cabinet adopted a condolence motion at the deaths of some 160 people and injury of many others during the recent landslides in Chittagong, Khagrachhari, Rangamati, Cox's Bazar and Moulvibazar districts and at the recent fire incident at a tower in London killing and injuring many people.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Secretary along with the PM's Principal Secretary and Director General (Administration) of the Prime Minister's Office and Project Director of the Access to Information programme handed over the 'World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Award 2017' to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the beginning of the meeting.
Earlier on June 13, 2017, Bangladesh was conferred upon this award in a ceremony at the headquarters of the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva.