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Govt wants rumour-free media: Arafat

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DE Online Desk
State Minister for Information Mohammad Ali Arafat has said the government wants disinformation, misinformation and rumour-free mass media that will ensure free flow of authentic information to hold the authorities accountable.
“We want disinformation and rumour free mass media along with ensuring full freedom of the press,” he said at a meeting with Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) leaders at his ministry’s conference room on Thursday (Jan 25).
The government wants to ensure the space for mass media to question and criticise the authorities and even the government, but it must be based on factually correct information, Arafat said.
The mass media must also have a room for the government to reply to those questions and criticisms, he added.
The ATCO leaders led by its Senior Vice President and DBC Chairman Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury met Arafat to welcome him on his appointment as the state minister for information and broadcasting.
In the maiden cabinet meeting, Arafat said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed the members to take into account criticism over the government’s failure and mistakes based on correct information and amend them.
She did not oppose criticism but wants it to be based on authentic information as partial truth is more dangerous than false information, the state minister added.
She, however, instructed the cabinet members to remain aware so the criticism, based on malicious intention, ill-motive and agenda-driven, could not affect the government activities and asked them to continue works for the interest of the country and its people, Arafat said.
He sought suggestions from the journalist and other stakeholders on whether any structure can be formulated to bring the disinformation under accountability, he said.
It is expected that the mass media will bring the government under accountability and criticize the government’s mistakes and failures, he said, adding, “And, we will reply to those”.
“Simultaneously, I want cooperation from you on how we together can bring into accountability the ill-efforts of spreading misinformation and disinformation using mass media or other platforms under a solid structure,” he continued.
Mentioning that the free flow of information, freedom of expression and freedom of the press is very important for the sake of democracy and progress, he said disinformation and its spread is equally harmful.
If any news on government mistake or failure is printed on the first page of the newspapers or in any other pages or it comes in the headlines of any electronic media, Arafat said, “I will request the media authorities to circulate the rejoinder replying to that report given by the concerned authorities on the same place so that the people can reach a decision from the both views”.
Referring to misuse or abuse of mainstream and social media, he put emphasis on building some institutions to bring discipline in the media as the mass media witnessed a quick expansion on a large scale in the last 15 years.
“But we have to remain cautious so that the efforts of bringing misinformation and disinformation under accountability cannot overstep on the space of freedom of expression and the freedom of the press,” Arafat said, reports state news agency.
However, criticism can never be made on the country, national flag, national anthem, the Liberation War and the number of martyrs in the Liberation War, he said, adding, these are anti-state activities.
In the meeting, the ATCO leaders placed different proposals for the expansion and betterment of the electronic media while the state minister assured them of taking realistic steps to this end.
DBC Chairman Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury proposed establishing a separate press council to regulate the electronic media like the Bangladesh Press Council.
Nagarik TV Director Nabidul Haque, Boishakhi TV Deputy Manager Titu Alam Milan and NTV Director Md Ashfaq Uddin Ahmed, among others, were present at the meeting.

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