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Mass Media Employees Bill

New law to curtail press freedom

Says Editors’ Council

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 20 April, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Editors’ Council on Tuesday voiced serious concern over the recently-tabled Mass Media Employees (Services and Conditions) Bill 2022 as the law will allow bureaucracy to have more control over journalism.

“Media industries and the media employees are being brought under the control of the bureaucracy more in the name of protecting the interest of journalists,” said the council in a press release.

The editors’ body reiterated that 37 out of the 54 sections in the proposed Act are not journalist friendly.

“Amid the critical period caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government placed the Act in parliament, in which some 37 out of 54 sections are not journalist friendly.”

The council also mentioned that the formation of media court and appellate court will create legal complications for newspapers and media employees.

At the same time, such courts will hinder the activities of the media independently.

The panel also warned that such a bill may completely destroy editorial institutions.

There is a chance to create conflict among the owners and the media employees turning them into rivals, it added.

The Council highlighted that the Act gives the government the right to shut down the newspaper, which was part of the infamous Special Powers Act that was later repealed.

If passed, the law would curtail the development of newspapers, including freedom of the press and freedom of expression, said the release signed by Editors’ Council President Mahfuz Anam and General Secretary Delwar Hanif Mahmud.

Mentioning that the Act is against the interests of journalists, they urged the government to have a discussion with all concerned before finalising such a law.

The Mass Media Employees (Services and Conditions) Bill 2022 was placed in parliament on March 28 aimed at increasing job facilities for journalists and other employees in media outlets.