Government’s outdated media advertisement policy wasting public money: Journalist Khalidi

The editor-in-chief of Bangladesh’s premier news provider has criticised the government for ‘wasting taxpayers’ money’ on advertising in print media who are fast losing readers.

Published : 23 Oct 2016, 04:44 PM
Updated : 23 Oct 2016, 05:52 PM

“The government, for instance, spends more money on the Old Media. The government's advertisement policy is not just unrealistic, it is anachronistic,” Toufique Imrose Khalidi said as he was speaking about how he led in ‘Terrific Ten Years’ at its founding anniversary in Dhaka’s Radisson Blu hotel. 

“Newspapers selling not even 200 copies are getting government adverts while internet publications with tens of millions of readers are overlooked,” Khalidi told his audience that included Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu and State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak.

“The current practice means the government is wasting taxpayers’ money because the return is almost zero,” Khalidi said.

According to data Inu presented in Parliament in June, the number of government-approved private TV stations in Bangladesh is 41. Also operating in the country are 28 FM radio stations, 32 community radio channels and 1,086 dailies.   

The TV stations cover more than 90 percent of the entire advertisement market. Most of the remaining goes to dailies.

The internet newspapers get only a scrap of the money. They continue to be remained deprived of government advertisement, despite boasting millions of readers, due to the absence of any government guideline on the matter.

Of the huge number of online news portals that mushroomed in past few years, 1,717 have applied for licence.

Khalidi said he no longer confront this question: How many people do actually have access to the Internet?

“My standard response would be: How many people read newspapers in this country?   

“The falling numbers of print newspapers would be embarrassing for my friends who run or manage them,” he added.  

Referring to BTRC data, Khalidi said the number of internet connections in Bangladesh is over 62.3 million, nearly the size of the population in the United Kingdom.

“You can well imagine the kind of audience we reach if we get anywhere near our share as the largest provider. The bilingual site with its landing page having English news has actually a much larger volume of Bangla content.

“Given the reach, volume and the depth of our readership reflected in our pageviews, time on site etc, we are aware of our responsibility in shaping our readers’ cultural and intellectual taste – with the broader objective being: inform, educate and entertain,” he said.