Speakers yesterday urged the journalist community to unite and resist the government's attempt to curb the freedom of speech through regulations like the National Broadcasting Policy 2014.
Journalists from newspapers and radios along with academicians and politicians voiced their concern about the policy, which puts a set of restrictions on the contents of broadcasts.
Terming the policy "an order or a ban", educationist Serajul Islam Choudhury said issuing such a "ban" when there was no emergency proved that the state had reached an extreme low.
"I don't expect the media owners to protest, but since the ban is against the interests of journalists they must unite and lead the protest," he told a roundtable, "National Broadcasting Policy, Freedom of Media and Democracy", organised by Gonosanghati Andolon at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
Echoing Choudhury, Prof Anu Mohammad of Jahangirnagar University said, "We suspect whether this is just a regulation or groundwork for a more oppressive rule in future."
Pointing out that a policy was being drafted for the online media, Executive Editor of The Daily Star Syed Badrul Ahsan said, "Next, restrictions would be imposed on the print media and on what is being taught at universities."
Referring to media reports which helped to put influential people involved in the Narayanganj seven murders behind bars, Jyotirmoy Barua, a Supreme Court lawyer, said, "If such reports demean the image of any forces, then I would want them to be reported 100 times."
Speakers said that since the government came to power through a questionable election, it wanted to throttle any voice that might work against the interest of groups such as bureaucracy, security forces and countries supporting it.
Abul Hasan Rubel, coordinating committee member of Gonosanghati Andolon, read out a statement, criticising the policy and questioning the government's objective for drafting such rules.
Meanwhile, Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), at the press briefing at Dhaka Reporters Unity, said the policy would make the broadcasting media completely subservient to the government.
"The government has in fact taken control of the media in its own hands through this policy," said PDP Chairman Dr Ferdous Ahmed Qureshi.
“Formulating a broadcast policy without having an 'Independent Broadcast Commission' is like putting the cart before the horse,” he said, adding that in the absence of a commission, the information ministry would implement the policy.