Regulatory authorities

The Bangladesh Press Council is the only formal regulatory authority for Bangladesh media. However, as it was seen in the past, successive governments have used their authority to regulate media.

The council was established in 1979 with the commitment of preserving and protecting the freedom of the press, and maintaining and improving the standard of newspapers and news agencies. The 15-member quasi-judicial body can hardly play any role in this regard. A Supreme Court Judge or anyone having such qualification is nominated by the president and heads the council as its chairman. Of the members, three are working journalists, three editors of news agencies and three owners or top executives of news agencies. The panel of experts will consist of three members of which one member will be nominated by the University Grants Commission, one by the Bangla Academy, and the other by the Bangladesh Bar Council. Two members of Jatiya Sangsad (National Parliament) are to be nominated by the Speaker.

It accepts complaints relating to media and resolves them in line with the Press Council Act and the Code for Conduct for newspapers and news agencies. As it enjoys some rights and jurisdiction of the civil court, the council can summon someone, asking them to present and deposit witnesses when dealing with a complaint. However, it cannot compel any media or journalist or editor to disclose the sources of their news. The council has seldom taken bold steps against governmental interference. On the other hand, aggrieved people rarely go to the council to lodge complaints due to its very limited jurisdiction.

In 2010, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Information said in an observation that the Council was nothing but a “paper tiger” and thus called for revamping it and amending the Press Council Act.