The Cabinet today approved the draft of 'The National Online Mass Media Policy, 2017' incorporating a proposal for constituting a National Broadcast Commission to facilitate the operation of online mass media in a well-organised manner.
The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters after the meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said the draft policy has been formulated so that online mass media could work in a well-organised manner upholding the national history and the Liberation War spirit.
For this purpose, he said, detailed guidelines have been given in the new draft policy for smooth running of online mass media, including those being operated by radio, TV, newspapers and so on.
According to the draft policy, Shafiul Alam said, every single mass media outlet of the country will have to be registered with the National Broadcast Commission.
He, however, said the online media already registered under the Press and Publications Act, 1973 do not require re-registration with the National Broadcast Commission.
"But, the authorities concerned of the online media will have to inform the Commission about their previous registration," the Cabinet Secretary said.
Shafiul Alam said the government, in consultation with the Commission, will formulate rules of procedures for smooth application of the Act, while the Commission will be empowered to frame a guideline for giving licenses to the broadcasters.
Besides, the Commission will make recommendations to the government for giving licences to television, radio, internet TV or other digital broadcast stations and it will issue licences upon the government's approval.
Alam said the Commission could issue show cause notice, initiate investigation, recommend to the government for further proceedings against online media outlets if they broadcast something in violation of the National Broadcast Policy-2014.
On its own, the Commission will be able to take action against online media outlets if it believes that they have violated the code of conduct and breached discipline, he said.
The Commission will also be given the authority to take measures against a online media outlet if any content poses a threat to security, territorial integrity, peace, public order and unity of the country or if it is vulgar, false and malicious or if the content is against the spirit of the War of Liberation and distorts national history and heritage.
The Cabinet meeting also approved a proposal for amendment to the Nationalised Private Primary Schools (Fixation of Conditions for Services) Policy 2013.
Following the amendment to the policy, Alam said, the teachers of the private primary schools recently nationalised will be absorbed in the revenue sector provided they have teaching experience of 21 years or more along with Certificate-in-Education course certificate.
The Cabinet meeting also approved in principle the draft of the 'Bangladesh Sugar (Road Development Cess) Bill, 2017.
The Cabinet Secretary said the Bangladesh Sugar (Road Development Cess) Ordinance was first promulgated in 1960.
The Cabinet meeting also gave final nod to 'The Groundwater Management in Agricultural Activities Bill, 2017'.
Mohammad Shafiul Alam said the proposed law has empowered the Upazila Parishad as this local government body to form and supervise the Upazila Irrigation Committees.
After conducting infield inspections, he said, the upazila irrigation committees will provide licences among the interested people and farmers in exchange of fees to be determined by rules.
In case of using groundwater without any licence, the punishment will be maximum Tk 10,000 as fine and 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' and another proposal for ratifying the 'Agreement between State of Kuwait and Bangladesh for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income'.
Besides, the Cabinet meeting approved a proposal for ratifying the statute of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS), a specialised organisation 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 injuring 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.
Ministers, state ministers and secretaries concerned were also present at the meeting.