Radio Meghna 98.4 was inagurated by H. E. Hasanul Huq Inu, MP, the Honorable Minister of Ministry of Information of Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on February 18, 2015 at Charfassion, Bhola Island, Bangladesh. This 15th community radio station in Bangladesh was initiated by the Coastal Association for Social Transformation(COAST) Trust.
Also present at the inaguration ceremony were H. E. Abdullah Al Islam Jacob, MP, Deputy Minister of Environment and Forest; Mr. Mortuza Ahmad, the honorable Information Secretary; Mr. Abdul Karim, Managing Director of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF); Mr. Kazi Akhtar Uddin Ahmed, Director General of Bangladesh Betar; Dr. Akram Hossain Chowdhury, former Member of Parliament; Ms. Farah Kabir, Country Director of Action Aid Bangladesh; Mr. Asgar Ali Sabri, Director of Action Aid Bangladesh; Mr. Ziaul Huq Mukta, Regional Policy Coordinator of Oxfam, GB Asia; AHM Bazlur Rahman- S21BR, Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC); Mr. Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of VOICE.
Both the honorable Minister of Information and the honorable Deputy Minister of Environment and Forest addressed those present at the inauguration ceremony. Following the unveiling of the name plate and the commencement of broadcasting the guests participated in a discussion session at Brajagopal Town Hall, Charfassion. This session was jointly hosted by COAST Trust, Upazila Council of Charfassion and Charfassion Municipality and was chaired by Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury- S21K, the Executive Director of COAST Trust. Also present at the discussion were the Mr. Selim Reza, Deputy Comissioner of Bhola District, and Mr. Kamruzzaman, Police Super of Bhola.
On behalf of the community, COAST made a presentation on how this community radio station can contribute towards establishing security for sea-going fishermen from life threatening piracy and cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. COAST also presented how the community can play an important role to end the digital divide and pave the way for Digital Justice in the rural and remote island community.
Some key demands raised from the discussion were: (1) increase the transmission power from 100 watt to at least 250 watt so that the broadcast can cover the sea going boats and small islanders; (2) release the Universal Obligatory Fund and allow the community radios access to this fund to serve the people who are deprived of tele-services; (3) create a scope towards working to end the digital divide and establish digital justice; and, (4) declare the airwaves as a Common Public Good and allow the non-profit community media to use it more than the profit making commercial media.
So far there are 14 community radio stations on-air in Bangladesh which are aiming to ensure empowerment and the right to information for the rural communities. They are broadcasting for a total of 120 hours per day with programs focusing on information, education, local entertainment and development activities. Around 1000 young women and youths are now working with those stations throughout the country as rural broadcasters out of 4.6 million rural people in 67 upazillas under 13 districts. Another 17 community radio stations will start broadcast by end the 2015.
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) is promoting advocacy with the government in relation to community radio with other organizations since its emergence from 2000. BNNRC has been addressing the community radio and community TV access issue for over a decade, helping to bridge the information gap of rural Bangladesh with the support from Free Press Unlimited.
Source: AHM Bazlur Rahman, BNNRC