Bangladesh Government and Media
World Press Freedom Rank: Bangladesh 151/180
In 2020, Reporters Without Borders ranked Bangladesh 151/180 in their Press Freedom Index, stating there is a “disturbing increase in press freedom violations.” According to Germany based DW (Deutsche Welle) and Human Rights groups journalists, reporting about COVID 19 related news is punished and “attacked.” Further, DW states “PM Sheikh Hasina’s government is trying to conceal information about COVID-19.” Finally, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sent an open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina titled “Open letter to Bangladeshi premier on Covid-19 press freedom violations.”
Government Influence on Media: Media in Bangladesh consists of government-owned media and privately-owned media. TV is a widely preferred source of information and Bangladesh has three state-owned and 45 private satellite TV channels. In October 2018, the Digital Security Act passed in Parliament. This act gives police officers new powers, such as the right to detain people without a warrant which results in the government using this act to silence critical voices. The Diplomat reports that “Since the Digital Security Act was passed, 1,000 cases have been filed under the law.” Media Landscape reports that the Bangladeshi Government “follows a discriminatory policy in distributing its advertisement which accounts for about 10% of the total advertisements, as per several estimations.” It is further reported that “newspapers critical of the government are routinely deprived of the government advertisements.” This leads to significant pro-Government bias in order to be funded though advertising revenue. In summary, the Government of Bangladesh has a very strong influence on media through censorship and acts of violence against journalists and those with critical voices.