Does accountability of media depend on democracy?

Media is accountable to the general public, but at the same time it needs to be governed by the laws put down by a democratic state. This was the concluding sentiments of the participants of IID’s seventh Policy Breakfast. The latest episode of the Policy Breakfast series was held on 1st March 2016 at Red Shift Lounge in Dhaka.

Honorable Minister of Information, Mr. Hasanul Haq Inu, MP, opened the event with an outline of the issues relating to media and democracy. This was followed by a lively debate surrounding the motion “Accountability of the media depends on the state of democracy”. The debaters were Mr. Asif Saleh, Senior Director at Brac and Brac International, and Mr. Golam Mortuza, Editor at Saptahik.

The constitution of Bangladesh grants media the freedom to operate freely. However, some of the participants urged that just as any other institution media’s freedom also has to be governed by laws and regulations. The media is responsible for providing relevant and accurate information to the general public and therefore has an inherent responsibility to maintain its integrity. On the other hand, others supported the view that any interference in part of the government can be seen as undue regulations and restrictions on the media.

Mass media may not be regulated by the government but it does need strong institutions to provide some form of guidance. Without strong institutions the media has to take it upon itself to manage censorship issues and this may create uncertainty in the arena.

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