June 26, 2004

Influence of satellite TV Channels

Bangladesh's air is free to all the satellite broadcasters. There are a few Bangladeshi Private TV channels, which usually broadcasts good programs in Bangla. Viewers prefer these channels to the state owned BTV(accused of being a mouthpiece of government) because of variety in programs and authenticity of news programs they provide.

We can also watch other Asian channels which are generally broadcasted in this region. Due to the language similarities and attractive programs Indian channels (Hindi, Bengali & English) are the most popular here. Now a days many can understand Hindi (if not read and speak). Even the persons who have a tendency to oppose anything Indian, are fond of these Indian programs. They listen to Hindi songs, indoor and outdoor. Among the middle class and upper middleclass women, Indian TV serials are very popular. They watch every episode of the popular Hindi serials. They prefer Hindi programs to English ones because of their weakness in English.

Now what all these are affecting our society? The Bangladeshi channels are not prospering as they should as they are not getting enough local viewers who are being distracted by the Indian channels. The Bangladeshi viewers are more exposed to Indian consumer goods augmenting the market of Indian consumer goods in Bangladesh. And they have this advantage without expending for advertisement in Bangladesh media. The portraying of the faster society and openness of Indian society in these programs has provided an outrage in the Muslim conservative society of Bangladesh. They accuse that the Bangladeshi youth are more interested in Indian obscene music videos and adult contents of other programs. There is another fact that Bangladesh's free TV channels are not shown in India specially in Kolkata. Actually there is more economics involved into that than politics. It is said that the Indian business conglomerates do not want airing of Bangladeshi TV channels as it will advertise Bangladeshi products to the huge consumer base in India. It will drop their market share. So the Bangladeshi channels are losing in all senses, viewers as well as advertisement earnings.

I find this very irritating. If Bangladesh is showing Indian channels, then why Bangladeshi channels (which are free) are not shown in Indian homes. As far as I know, the people of West-Bengal are interested to watch Bangladeshi programs because they speak the same language and have cultural similarities.

And the Bangladeshi channels now have to be helped by all quarters to provide more entertaining programs, which represent Bengali culture and uphold our interest.

The problem is that our political parties always have many things to brag about Indian influence but these types of important issues never are included in their agenda. I do not support banning of media. But the viewers can always pressurize the broadcaster for what kind of program they would like to see. The Star TV (owned by Rupert Murdoch) had to change its style of programs because of a legal suit in Indian courts claiming that an aired program had offended viewers in India.

So I think government of Bangladesh should take this issue seriously with India and let Bangladeshi channels air in West-Bengal and other parts of India. They should also pressurize the broadcasters that the programs aired in Bangladesh should not damage the interests of Bangladeshi viewers. This is necessary for the bilateral relationship between India and Bangladesh and the development of Bangladesh's economy. This will expose Indians to advertisements of Bangladeshi products & programs too. This is expected of a true free media and economy.


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