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Arafat agrees with journalists’ demand to make social media accountable

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State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad Ali Arafat has agreed with a demand placed by journalists to bring social media under a policy and accountability and said he will take steps in this regard after talking with journalists and other stakeholders.

“As journalists underscored the need to bring all social media, including YouTube and Facebook, under a policy and accountability, I, as the state minister for Information and Broadcasting, just agreed with the demand and will try to fulfill it after consulting with journalists and other stakeholders,” he said.

The state minister said this at a meeting with Broadcast Journalist Centre (BJC) leaders at his ministry’s conference room in Bangladesh Secretariat.

Along with the demand above, in the meeting, the BJC leaders placed different demands, including taking steps to complete the Sagor-Runi murder trial, forming a wage board for broadcast journalists, formulating a policy, and constituting a council for broadcast and online journalism.

About meetings with different journalists organizations, Arafat said he got another proposal to formulate a policy determining the eligibility and quality of journalists.

“But, we want to say that Bangabandhu’s daughter and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government showed a liberal approach in the last 15 years . . . we let the media enjoy full freedom”, he continued.

The state minister added: “However, as you (professional journalists) want a policy over determining the eligibility of journalists to bring discipline in the media industry, we will do it after talking with you.”

About providing broadcast or internet services ignoring the existing laws, he said, legal actions will be taken against those who are involved in irregularities.

Responding to a call from journalists to take steps against sudden layoff in media, the state minister said it is a violation of the Universal Human Rights Convention.

“I will issue official directives to media outlet authorities so no institution can sack its journalists with short notice. Notice of laying off anyone must be served at least three months before,” Arafat added.

Similarly, if journalists want to resign, they should also inform the authorities before a certain period, like two or three months.
Arafat sought cooperation from journalists in fulfilling their (journalists) demands.

BJC Chairman Rezanul Haque Raja, Member Secretary Shakil Ahmed, Treasurer Manosh Ghosh and Trustee Board Member Syed Ishtiaque Reza were present at the meeting, among others.

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