24.1.1 The contribution of mass media to socio-economic development is now widely acknowledged. It plays an effective role to inform, educate and motivate people towards achieving national development goals and objectives. Specially, objectives like poverty alleviation, family planning, eradication of illiteracy, employment generation, primary health care and nutrition, for their sustained success, are contingent on people’s awareness, support and participation. Mass media mobilises support for development programmes aimed at self-reliance and it makes people conscious about their duties and responsibilities to achieve these.
24.2 Review of Past Performance
24.2.1 During the First Plan period, a programme was undertaken for the creation of necessary facilities at Dhaka TV station and establishment of four relay stations at Chittagong, Khulna, Natore and Sylhet to bring about 80 per cent of the population under TV coverage. Dhaka TV station was shifted to Rampura and three relay stations, one each at Rangpur, Noakhali and Mymensingh were commissioned during the Two Year Plan period (1978-80). A TV relay station was established at Natore and Colour TV was introduced during the Second Plan period (1980-85). During the Third Plan period (1985-90), establishment of three low power transmitters, one each at Comilla, Rangpur and Thakurgaon and installation of 100 k.w. radio transmitters at Bogra and Chittagong were planned and completed. The history of Bangladesh War of Independence (in 16 volumes) was compiled. National Institute of Mass Communication (NIMC) was established. Performance of different agencies during the Fourth Plan (1990-95) was as follows:
a. Bangladesh Betar: As of now, Bangladesh Betar has 7 broadcasting stations, 16 transmitters and 2 relay stations. Betar broadcast covers about 90 per cent of the total geographical area of Bangladesh. A total amount of Tk.856.20 million was allocated out of which Tk.569.60 million i.e. 67.32 per cent was spent in the Fourth Plan period. During the Fourth Plan period, Bangladesh Betar undertook 8 projects out of which 2 were completed and 1 abandoned. While coverage increased, qualitative improvement as a medium of information and healthy recreation left much room to be improved upon.
b. Bangladesh Television: With a view to bringing the whole country under TV coverage, BTV thus far has established 15 relay stations and 2 rebroadcasting centres at various places of the country. The extended television service covers 92 per cent of the population and 85 per cent of the total geographical area. Bangladesh Television took up 5 projects for implementation during the Fourth Plan. None of these projects was fully completed. Rehabilitation of Chittagong TV relay station, damaged by the cyclone of 1991, could not be completed in time. Introduction of BTV 2nd channel and BMR of Dhaka TV stations could not be implemented as per schedule due to non-availability of required fund.
c. National Institute of Mass Communication (NIMC) : NIMC was set up in the early 1980s and developed over years. NIMC organises training programme for the electronic and media personnel to acquire hands on skills to improve knowledge and capabilities. This institute has conducted 266 training courses and seminars and trained 3552 participants including 96 foreign participants during the Fourth Plan period. It also conducted 12 research programmes on model broadcasting during the same period.
d. Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB): PIB was set up in the early 1970s. It provided training to 500 journalists during the Fourth Plan. Earlier, during the Second Five Year Plan, a technical assistance project was implemented to develop the research and training base for the journalists.
24.3 Resource Allocation and Utilisation During Fourth Plan
24.3.1 During the Fourth Plan period, an allocation of Tk.1,230.00 million was made and Tk.1,360.00 million (at current prices) was spent.
24.4 Two Years between Fourth and Fifth Plans (1995-97)
24.4.1 During 1995-97, a total of 29 projects were undertaken including 13 spill over projects from the Fourth Plan. An amount of Tk.646.80 million (at current prices) was allocated for the period out of which Tk.506.00 million was actually spent upto June’97. By June, 1997, five projects were completed and the remaining 24 projects spilled over to the Fifth Plan with a financial implication of Tk.3,003.10 million. TV relay stations in Brahmanbaria, Thakurgaon and Jhenaidah were completed in this period. TV relay station at Patuakhali came to completion at the beginning of the Fifth Plan.
24.5 Issues and Constraints to Plan Implementation
24.5.1 The most important barriers to implementing development projects of mass media have been: (a) lack of timely acquisition of land; (b) delay in completion of construction work by the Public Works Department (PWD); (c) lack of co-ordination among various ministries; (d) uncertainty in inflow of foreign assistance; and (e) lack of commitment of the past governments in favour of the free media. Moreover, due to non-availability of foreign aid in time, a good number of projects could not be implemented within the stipulated time.
24.6 Fifth Five Year Plan
24.6.1 #9; Objectives: The objectives of the mass media sector in the Fifth Five Year Plan (1997-2002) are to:
provide and sustain freedom of media in general in pursuance of the constitutional guarantee for freedom of speech and communication