Media workers bill will harm media, journalists: Editors' Council
The Editors' Council (Sampadak Parishad) has said the space for independent media will shrink further if the proposed "Mass Media Employees (Services Conditions) Act-2022" 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," the council said in a press statement yesterday.
Revenue from advertisements has dropped significantly. Newspapers have shifted to digital platforms. Newspapers are going through a difficult period. And in this moment of crisis, the "Mass Media Employees (Services Conditions) Bill" was placed in parliament on March 28, the statement said.
Upon analysis of the proposed law, the Editors' Council observed that 37 out of its 54 provisions are not journalist friendly.
The council said it believes that the proposed law would bring the media industry and mass media employees under further control of the bureaucracy in the name of protection.
The editors' platform said formation of a media tribunal would create legal complications for media workers. Besides, a tribunal like this would create obstacles in operating media outlets independently, it added.
If the proposed law is implemented, there is apprehension it can completely destroy editorial institution, said the statement signed by Mahfuz Anam and Dewan Hanif Mahmud, president and general secretary of the council respectively.
"The proposed law pits media outlet owners against media employees and there is fear that this can create divisions among them," the statement said.
It said although the newspaper industry is privately owned, the proposed law would open the path for government intervention in the operations of media outlets.
"If the proposed law is passed, the space for independent media and freedom of expression will be curtailed further, thereby preventing media from flourishing."
The council mentioned that discussions with stakeholders must be held before the passage of a law like this one.