Mass Media Employees Bill: JS body to sit with stakeholders
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Broadcast Ministry will sit with stakeholders before finalising the much debated "Mass Media Employees (Services Conditions) Bill 2022."
Hasanul Haq Inu, chairman of the parliamentary watchdog, said this to The Daily Star today (June 15, 2022) after the standing committee's meeting at Jatiya Sangsad.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud placed the bill in parliament on March 28.
The bill was later sent to the parliamentary standing committee on the information ministry for evaluation and to report back to parliament within 60 days.
Inu, also president of Jatiya Samajrantrik Dal, on June 6 placed a proposal to extend the time for another 60 days which was approved in the House unanimously.
The parliamentary standing committee did not hold any meeting after the bill was placed in parliament.
Various journalists' organisations and owners' association, and Transparency International Bangladesh have seriously opposed some sections of the proposed law.
Hasanul Haque Inu today said, "Journalist leaders have already talked to me about the bill. But I have requested them to place their proposals before the standing committee in writing. The parliamentary committee will then formally invite them for talks."
Inu said the parliamentary committee would hold meetings with Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh (NOAB), Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO), and newspaper employees' association.
He also said that there may be a meeting with Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
The Editors' Council (Sampadak Parishad) in a statement on April 19 said the space for independent media will shrink further if the "Mass Media Employees (Services Conditions) Bill" is passed by parliament.
"The newspaper industry is going through trying times, still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. Many daily newspapers at home and abroad have either started curtailing their print editions, or stopping their print circulation altogether," Editors' Council also said.
Upon analysis of the proposed law, the Editors' Council observed that 37 out of its 54 provisions are not journalist-friendly.
The wages and benefits of journalists, employees and press workers, artists of broadcast, online, and print media outlets would be fixed under the proposed law.
If anyone or organisation violates the provisions of the bill, s/he will be fined Tk 50,000-Tk 5 lakh.
The government will be able to cancel the licences or registration of the media. The owners of media outlets will also face punishment for violation of the law.
Once the new law is passed in parliament, jobs of media employees will no longer be regulated under the labour law.