Registration of online editions of printed newspapers has been made compulsory. The provision of registration of online editions of newspapers has been made mandatory as per the draft National Online Media Policy, 2017 (Amendment 2020). The official initiative has been taken to stop ‘yellow journalism’ that has spread its wings alarmingly.
About new registration rules, the government has decided that newspapers would get priority in registration of their online editions. We heartily welcome the official decision as it will discourage ‘yellow journalism’ to a great extent and encourage journalism in its true sense.Media in Bangladesh has been facing a grave crisis due to multifarious problems. Amid coronavirus pandemic, many newspapers have been squeezed and their income has fallen down drastically. Because of lack of revenue, a large number of newspapers are unable to pay salary, allowances and other dues to journalists and newspapermen who work there. In many cases salaries of many newspapermen have also been slashed. Some newspapers have already been closed down while some others are facing closure. An uncertain future awaits the working newsmen and their family members. In such a situation, mushroom growth of online news portals pose as a threat to the very survival of healthy growth of journalism.
However, there is a good piece of news for journalists. The establishment has come forward in aid of ailing newspapers. It has decided to pay the arrears to newspapers for publishing government advertisements and supplements on different occasions. This is indeed a welcome development for media! But, the administration should continue to follow the healthy practice of clearing Ad bills regularly so that media can survive.
We have heard that certain so-called online news portals are even run by a mere mobile phone and they are even getting advertisement decreasing income of genuine newspapers. We have also learnt that the Ministry of Information received around thousands of applications for registration of so-called online news portals. During scrutiny of the applications, the authorities should take extra-caution so that fake news portals do not get any chance of registration which will ultimately obstruct healthy growth of journalism. It should be done from the standpoint of protecting and promoting genuine media outlets.