• Sunday, December 21, 2014

Freedom in the air

TELEVISION OF A LIFETIME

Dhaka, the first city of the sub-continent to watch TV

By Faridur Reza Sagor

Continued from issue 47

Jamil Choudhury
Jamil Choudhury

All the satellite TV channels have come with a unique slogan they air during promotions. This style of using slogans was first introduced by Zee TV, the satellite channel. At first, the owners of Zee explained that the name 'Zee' came from 'Namaste Zee'. Later, the owners changed their story by saying that “Zee” came from “Jio Jio Mera Barat”. Whatever the source of the name is, naming of the channel is an important approach to get close to the people.
In order to come close to the people, what could be more important than to use one's country? Probably that is why most of the Bangla channels utilize patriotism in their slogans. Channel i says “Hridoye Bangladesh (Bangladesh at heart)”, ATN Bangla says, “Obiram Banglar Mukh (Always the face of Bengal)” ETV is says, “Shonar Bangla, shonar tori or sholo ana Bangliana (Golden Bangla, golden boat or hundred per cent Bengali)”. Satellite channels are telecasting many programmes on Bangladesh and boasting their patriotism. To be honest, patriotism was there since the first day television aired on Bangladesh.
The audience of Dhaka was the first in the sub-continent who watched images on television (on 25 December, 1964)! It was a proud moment for us. And the most prominent person behind bringing this pride was Jamil Choudhury. It is told that he was the one who first brought TV set here in Dhaka. It is also said that when it was brought in by air cargo, he feared that the cargo handlers may break glass of the TV. Therefore, he took the whole set out of the box and had it in the cargo without any packaging. This way, the personnel handling the TV set would see that it is some kind of new device with glass in front of it, and they would handle it carefully. It was decided that the television station would first be established in Dhaka in East Pakistan and Lahore in West Pakistan. A committee was formed to report whether Dhaka was ready for a television station or not.     

DIT Bhaban
DIT Bhaban

The committee members were at a loss of words when they figured out that DIT is the tallest building in Dhaka. It was a seven floor building; there was not even a single five story building in the city back then. Everybody's question was, how to make the Pakistani officials agree to establish the channel in Dhaka. Quickly, a strategy was penned. The report read, “Dhaka is a historical city of the sub-continent. Jahangirnagar was the capital of Mughal-Bangla. Above all, the city has a tradition of being a connoisseur of art and culture”. The argument that Dhaka is a traditionally cultural city was the key point. The Pakistani officials were made to understand that it was perfectly reasonable to have the subcontinent's first TV channel in Dhaka. That was the start. Those who were involved in planning Dhaka television did it out of patriotism. Other cities may have many modern facilities, but it was Dhaka, that can proudly claim that the images from a television set were first watched by the people of Dhaka city.
 To be continued…
The writer is Managing Director, Channel i
Translated by Zia Nazmul Islam

Published: 12:00 am Saturday, July 19, 2014

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