BNP’s demand: Take steps to protect media industry

Dhaka, Aug 24 – Observing that the newspaper industry is now on the brink of ruination due to coronavirus pandemic, BNP on Sunday demanded the government take effective steps to protect it.In a statement, the party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, said, “The ailing newspaper industry is now on the brink of further devastation due to the current Covid-19 situation. As the coronavirus spreads fast in the country, the number of newspaper sales and advertisements has dropped at an alarming rate. Many newspapers across the country, including the capital, have stopped publishing their print versions.”
He said, “Under the current situation, it’s now imperative for the government to take initiatives to keep the industry afloat. It’s possible to get the newspaper industry out of the near collapse by providing easy loans and incentives, and clearing the huge outstanding bills of government advertisements.”
Narrating the plights of journalists, the BNP secretary general said many newspapers are not able to pay the salaries of their employees while a significant number of journalists are losing their jobs every day. “The newspapers have adopted a policy of austerity to protect their existence.”
Fakhrul also said the helpless workers of the newspaper are living a miserable life due to the loss of their jobs or continuous decline in income. “They’re now going through a very difficult time.”
He also said some Journalists died of coronavirus while many others are unable to bear the of treatment expenses after being infected with the virus.
Expressing solidarity with the demands of the Newspaper Owners’ Association of Bangladesh (Noab) for the government support, Fakhrul said although the Information Minister assured of meeting it, still there is no response from the government to this end. “The present government has always been hostile towards newspapers. Maybe that’s why they are pretending not to listen to the demands of those involved in the newspaper industry.”
The BNP leader alleged that the government wants to destroy the media sector in a planned way. “Although some incentives have been given to some industries during the corona crisis, the government is least bothered about the crisis of the newspaper industry.”
He demanded that the tariff and VAT related to the newspaper industry be refixed as per the demand of Noab.
Mentioning that newspapers are the torchbearers of progress for human civilization, Fakhrul said this industry also has a heartfelt relation with multiparty democracy.
“Different views and thoughts of the human race are reflected in the newspapers. Destroying this industry means bringing back the medieval period. I urge all concerned, including pro-democratic people, to come forward to protect the newspaper industry,” he added. – UNB