TABLE OF CONTENTS
DAY ONE - 1 March
of workshop and welcome to delegates
David Page welcomed the participants to the workshop, which was one of four workshops on specific themes organised by the Media South Asia project in 2001/2. The first had been held in Colombo in May 2001 on 'Innovation in terrestrial television' and the second and third had been held in Delhi and Kathmandu in February 2002. These had been on the themes: ARepresenting the listener and viewer: issues of gender and marginalisation@ and ACommunity Radio in South Asia: exploring the way forward@. All the workshops had been held in association with South Asian organisations pre-eminent in their particular fields. David Page expressed great pleasure to be working in Bangladesh with Proshika, one of the leading ngos in the country, and to be meeting at its human resource development centre at Manikganj.
The second phase of the Media South Asia project, which was concentrating on issues of the media and civil society, had grown out of the research phase and the book and the film produced at that time. The book- 'Satellites over South Asia' by David Page and William Crawley - had examined the implications for the public interest of the growing commercialisation of the media and the challenge this presented for the state both as broadcaster and regulator. The book had argued that the state needed to create more space for diversity and to encourage de-centralisation of the media as a means of reinforcing the local and the national as a counterweight to globalising influences.
It was a special pleasure for all those concerned with the project to be able to show Nupur Basu's film AMichael Jackson comes to Manikganj@ in Manikganj itself. The film, like the book, had been very much a South Asian venture, shot with the assistance of local cameramen and crews in different countries. Afsan Chowdhury, who had been the researcher for Bangladesh, would chair a discussion of the film, supported by Kowsar Chowdhury, who had been the cameraman for the Bangladeshi sequences.
David Page then handed over to William Crawley who outlined the objectives of the workshop to be held over the following two days. The aim in setting it up had been to focus on development communication issues of south Asian and international importance, in which the host country- in this case Bangladesh- would be able to provide a particularly valuable perspective, for three reasons. Firstly Bangladesh had taken -in a south Asian context - the bold step of allowing private operators on a terrestrial channel, in collaboration as well as in competition with the state broadcaster. Secondly the experiments in rural telecommunications which have been initiated in Bangladesh had excited interest beyond south Asia. It represented a leapfrogging of technology; what had been a vision five or six years ago was now at least in part a reality - with some of the 'bringing down to earth' that the reality of the implementation of a vision brings with it. In forthcoming sessions Bangladeshi and Indian experts would be discussing what is being done with the new technologies and how the vision is expanding and changing with experience. The third reason for holding this workshop in Bangladesh was the nature of the non-government institutions working alongside government in the development field, and in particular the communication initiatives which they had been exploring.
When the plan for this
workshop had been first discussed in mid 2001it had been the intention
to hold the event outside the city of Dhaka, in a place where rural
development could be seen in the rural communities around. If the
idea of rural development had any meaning these rural communities
should be the main beneficiaries. William Crawley expressed gratitude
to Proshika - to the President Dr Qazi Faruque Ahmed and to the Deputy
Director Nargis Banu in particular - for agreeing to be associated
with the workshop and for inviting the Media South Asia project to
the very attractive conference and training centre at Koitta, Manikganj.
For those who had come from outside Bangladesh in particular the centre
itself, the green fields around and above all the fresh air was a
treat, and a reminder of the context of the communication and broadcasting
issues and challenges that would be discussed.
On the issue of Broadcasting and Development, William Crawley had been struck by the flat message given to him by the head of an organisation in India working in the field of development, who had said ‘Broadcasting is anti-development'. This was a challenge to broadcasters and development specialists alike, to demonstrate something which had needed to be proved on the ground - that broadcast information can be shown to be relevant and useful in a practical way. Information had to be closely coordinated with the other factors which can make a difference in changing social or agricultural practices.
This argument - put
in those stark terms - was contested and rejected by those who have
been working with some success in this field. What we would be trying
to do in this seminar was to explore the dilemmas and opportunities
for development-oriented broadcasting, and communication initiatives
which can be fruitfully adapted to broadcasting. This could embrace
both traditional means of communication and newer technologies. We
would be examining the experience of south Asian countries of the
reality and potential of partnership between government on the one
hand, and both the non-profit private sector and the newer commercial
broadcasting outlets on the other.
Dr Qazi Faruque
Ahmed, President of Proshika, highlighted the potential role
of the media in encouraging enterprise and self-help among the millions
of poor people in the region. He said that South Asia had the world's
largest middle class and the largest pool of computer specialists
as well as the highest incidence of poverty and illiteracy. It was
an unequal world in which food surpluses rot in godowns, while 50%
of the population go hungry. There was also the challenge of religious
fundamentalism and of terrorism, with events in Gujarat an illustration
of disturbing trends. He said ngos and civil society were an important
force for change but there was a need for closer cooperation with
the electronic media in meeting the challenge of development and he
hoped the workshop would promote that end.
DAY TWO 2 March
Session 1 How
can broadcasting and communications con tribute to development? The
ngo dimension in Bangladesh and India.
Zafreen Zabeen Chowdhury gave an account of UNICEF's wide range of developmental broadcasting projects. The Meena animation series promoting the rights of the girl child had been shown throughout the 64 districts of Bangladesh using mobile film units, and had had a powerful impact as a role model for children. Meena had continued her journey, with a new series on children in conflict and UNICEF hope that she will eventually find a home of her own so she can become Aa sustainable vehicle@ for development broadcasting. UNICEF has also made two short films on child abuse and child's rights. For the first time non-commercial sexual abuse of children had been brought into the open. This was done by showing a mother speaking of her hope to prevent the abuse that she herself had faced.
UNICEF did not buy air time but worked in partnership with BTV and private channels eg. Ekushey TV, Channel I and ATN Bangla. It currently contributed 315 minutes per day to Radio Bangladesh and 30 minutes to Bangladesh TV. It aimed to change the idea that children should listen but not speak. In an initiative with Ekushey TV, it had encouraged the participation of children between the ages of 11 and 17 in the production of the programme Muktha Khobar, offering their solutions. Thirty two young boys and girls have been empowered by teaching them skills in programme making and Ekushey TV had received thousands of letters demonstrating the impact of the programmes. UNICEF also worked with the print media. Zafreen Chowdhury argued that the time had come for a more pro-active development focus on the part of the Bangladesh media - a social and ethical revolution to counter ignorance and driven by the media.
BS Bhatia (DECU) identified several stages of development broadcasting 1) Information transfer - with an expert giving information 2) Motivation - using sports or a more dramatic style. 3) Field support campaigns - to ensure the availability of inputs and services. But even this proved not to be enough, so there was 4) A move towards participatory programming. Bhatia gave instances in which field research had led to the modification of the message on the proportions of food to be taken for maximum nutritional value. There can be teams of experts but people should be able to decide issues for themselves.
He stressed the importance of a two-way channel of communication and a focus on social issues, particularly the rights of the lower strata of society. Communication should be a process of empowerment. Sometimes, development broadcasting had to become confrontational with the establishment if it was to change society. It was one thing to sensationalise starvation deaths, another thing to analyse the problem; and analysis is more important to development broadcasting. There are no permanent solutions in development broadcasting; there is a need for continued interaction. The audience for Doordarshan in urban areas makes development broadcasting difficult to promote; it is a low priority, prime time is not available for programmes, and there is a lack of professional skills. Ngos make a useful impact. But the media is a small tool for their purposes. Ngo experts are and should be used to give their advice as a link with the rural communities but in general ngos are not expert enough in broadcasting.
AzfarAziz (BCDJC) demonstrated the growing reach of TV to rural areas, increasing from 24% to 35% between 1995 and 1998, and the consequent improved statistics of health awareness for mass media programmes. For example an awareness of water-borne diseases rose from 20% in 1991 to 92% in 1998. 26 % of TV viewers and 19% of radio listeners could recall the content of the UNICEF/ Johns Hopkins Meena series on the girl child. 97% of these had liked the programmes.This was the most successful media programme in Bangladesh.
Two thirds of the population were still illiterate, so TV and Radio were the best means of reaching them. Information should be mixed with entertainment in a participatory way, with the target audience participating with the experts. Radio is still widely listened to in the rural areas; Bangladesh radio carries 92 hours of programmes per day but only 4hours 45 minutes daily of Farm broadcasts. Azfar Aziz suggested four priorities for media information campaigns: 1) Sex education for young people aimed at the prevention of sexual abuse and pornography. 2) Drug addiction. 3) Psychological illness. 4) Child Labour and Child abuse. He concluded by noting that the basis of BRAC 's most successful information programme - the ORT campaign - was interpersonal communication, and this success had been achieved before television was a major factor in rural communication.
Professor Dulal Biswas (Rajshahi University) commented that interpersonal communication and broadcasting were complementary, and effective used in combination. The broadcasting media were helping to create an environment which was reinforced by ngo workers in the field. He stressed the need for ngos to work with Radio and TV and the need to take ngo communication seriously as a basis for development. Typically ngos could have two kinds of input: 1) Communication and 2) Financial. Communication should be one of the underlying concepts guiding ngo objectives and philosophy. But there were a number of difficulties, not least the lack of credibility of state controlled TV.
In the discussion, Tajul Islam (BRAC) commented succinctly that 'in a war you have to fight on the ground and you also need air cover'. This had been at the core of BRAC's ORT campaign. B.S.Bhatia said that TV works better in health, in dealing with simple things, than in social issues, where you need more analysis, information and support. Addressing the question whether private channels could be said to have good intentions in relation to socially relevant broadcasting, Hilmy Ahamed (YATV Colombo) noted that in developmental broadcasting there were no single players. Zafreen Chowdhury said UNICEF had no objection to the use of social messages as 'fillers' on private channels. Meena was now bringing in new messages about going to school and girl child rights. Early results of a survey showed no resistance to these new messages in rural areas. The study of specific impact was very difficult and it could take a long period to assess. The John Hopkins University in-depth study of the impact of the Meena campaign for the rights of the girl child, from which the results were expected to be available in mid-2002, would have to be assessed in that light.
Summing up Mahfuzullah spoke of a shift in the development paradigm from top-down to grass roots - upwards.
Rajendra Sharma presented a paper outlining of Nepal's history as a state, the development of its political system and policies on communication and broadcasting. The National communication policy of September 1992 was a result of the realisation of the need to give credibility and effectiveness to all information and communications media in line with the fundamental spirit of the freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by the Nepalese Constitution. It paved the way for private FM radio broadcasting for educational and recreational programmes. Under the policy, Radio Nepal and Nepal Television were to be combined to form a single national broadcasting authority, but this had not yet happened. A new broadcasting law was to enable satellite and cable systems to be organised and to provide foreign communications media with air time to conduct educational and informational programmes. The National Broadcasting Act of 1993 set out specific guidelines and operational principles for private sector organisations to obtain the authority for broadcasting and to ensure broadcasting according to norms set by the government. National Broadcasting Regulations 1995 deal with the application procedures to broadcast programmes via satellite cable or FM and the condition under which licences can be issued. The regulations do not differentiate between a commercial station and community station; both have to pay 4% of their revenue to the government whether or not they make a profit. Rajendra Sharma argued that radio stands out as the most appropriate medium for a country like Nepal. It transcends literacy and its signals can be accessible to most people who own easily available cheap receivers. Nepal had taken the lead in the south Asian region in issuing licences for setting up both private commercial stations and community radio stations. He outlined the distinctive features of three models of community radio station which have been set up in Nepal - the cooperative model, the local administration model and the ngo model. The Nepalese government had gone ahead with plans for deregulation of the communications sectors to promote private participation. The government was committed to fostering an environment for the national radio and television to co-exist with the private electronic media.
At the same time the government was aware of the grievances of the private sector and listed the main points of contention as follows: 1) Although 25 licences have been issued several applications are still pending. 2) The government appears not to have been consistent in issuing licences; commercial licences have been issued with ease but community licences are still pending - the government argues that the applications have to be assessed and this is causing the delays. 3) Non profit community stations are subject to the same taxes on revenue as commercial stations. 4) Private radio stations are not allowed to broadcast news bulletins though they have been able to broadcast news under another name. 5) The sustainability of community stations is at stake because of the absence of separate legislation - the government was said to be working on this. 6) Very few advertising prospects are available in the rural communities where community stations exist - the government cannot help this.
Rajendra Sharma cited the Nepalese Minister of Information speaking at the opening session of the workshop on Community Radio held by the Media South Asia project in association with PANOS (South Asia) in Kathmandu (February 2002). The Hon. Mr J.P.Gupta had said that the unprecedented deregulation of the electronic media in Nepal had opened up new areas of debate and left some unanswered questions. Irresponsible broadcasting can have an adverse impact (the riots triggered by reports concerning the film star Hritik Roshan were a case in point). Despite allegations from the private sector, the Nepalese example was a showcase for others in the South Asian region. The ultimate goal was the well being of the common man and the fulfilment of his aspirations to live a life of dignity. In conclusion, Rajendra Sharma argued that state broadcasters were not always on the other side of the fence to ngos. He argued that individual stations should decide the parameters of responsibility in broadcasting
Asoka Dias of Maharajah TV Colombo said there was a common belief that public service broadcasting and the interests of commercial TV stations did not go hand in hand. But MTV Sri Lanka had a different opinion. Though it was correct to say that the biggest problem facing Sri Lanka was the conflict in the North and East between the government and the LTTE, to most Sri Lankans the biggest challenge of the day was the severe power shortage, which affected every citizen of the country. To address this and create a dialogue MTV had started a special segment on the main evening news bulletins in October 2001. Prolonged power cuts put the ruling party under great pressure, which they blamed with some justification on the weather gods. MTV had given an opportunity for politicians to explain their point of view. This had triggered a response from the Engineers Union of the Ceylon Electricity Board which attributed the crisis to the non-implementation of professional advice and short sighted political decisions, rather than a mere weather problem. As the dialogue developed - mediated by MTV to very good audience ratings - new dimensions had emerged, for example a high incidence of burn injuries sustained during power cuts. The awareness of the crisis which MTV had created had paved the way for the issue to be addressed on election platforms instead of the mutual mud slinging and character assassination more usually practised by politicians in an election campaign. This instance, Asoka Dias maintained, challenged the idea that national dialogue was not viable for commercial TV. As the PANOS Institute's Patan declaration of 2000 on Radio and Public Service Broadcasting had recommended, public service broadcasters should follow the community's need and their message should be entertaining. When those requirements were met the potential existed to get sponsorship for programmes which have an unbiased balanced editorial policy, reporting facts and giving the viewer the opportunity to decide.
Asoka Dias questioned whether there were national strategies in relation to developmental broadcasting. He noted that frequencies were a limited resource and that an open and transparent system was needed in allocating them. Such a system was not yet in place in south Asia. At one end of the spectrum, they were given to friends of government; at the other, they were kept unallocated as sacred cows; a strategy was needed for allocating them. The same was true of sites for transmitters. In Sri Lanka, the government had given the best location to its own channel. He noted that journalists disliked elections more than politicians as they lacked the facilities to give equal coverage to all parties. He suggested greater cooperation among private channels in newsgathering might release resources for programme gathering. Assessing the quality of media management in Sri Lanka, Asoka Dias said that journalists who manage the media were not doing the job well, whereas managers brought from outside do not understand broadcasting. Strategies were needed, he said, to develop media administrators.
Simi Raheal spoke of her commitment to the role of women in national development and the experience she brought to it of working with Pakistan Television, the private sector and with the UNDP. Pakistan had had some success in developing the role of women in the media. She had been involved in a five year PTV/UNDP project on the portrayal of women which had begun in 1997. Pakistan TV had emphasised drama because of restrictions on dance and music. She noted that Pakistan TV had a tradition of drama that matched the film industry of other nations, and that it had contributed to the development of creative minds. Radio was still very influential especially in the rural areas. The coming of satellite TV had been an exciting moment but people now knew what they liked. The country's media were now moving from one definitive phase to another. 'It is like being born again' she said ' but it is difficult to formulate strategy. It is still in the making.'
BK Mohanty (Doordarshan India) stressed the importance of interpersonal communication in addition to strategies for radio and TV. Technically 95% coverage had been achieved, but connectivity was another matter. 85 crores had reach but only 8.5 crores had connectivity and only 4 crores had Cable and Satellite. It was necessary to redefine what was meant by prime time; it was different for different groups. It was also important to back one's own judgement and take risks. DD had taken a risk with a promo about AIDS, putting it out at 10 pm and TRPs had gone up from 7 to 12.5. They had also worked with UNICEF on public health. Drama had been used to advocate the use of an indoor latrine and it clicked. If we were to achieve a highly developed information society the day after tomorrow, planning had to start today. The situation and the technology were always shifting. A sectoral approach was required for each problem. It was important to Adevise a good programme in line with ground realities@. In Nagaland, for a largely illiterate but very intelligent population, folk tales were a powerful basis for information. With 17 languages in Nagaland alone, a policy of producing programmes in multiple languages was essential. The perception of government was that of a third person - not one of us. But people need to be empowered to act themselves. Ngos have effectively utilised interpersonal communication for health campaigns. People can be persuaded that they know the answer but they don't know that they know. Mohanty argued that the best change agent is radio- Aa companion medium which does not require captivity@, whereas television is addictive and acts as a constraint on other activity. But no single medium can be effective as a strategy for development. Giving information was not sufficient; supporting action has to be taken to follow it up. DD1 already had a major element of 'infotainment'- for example, a programme that featured marital discord would be aimed at keeping the family together. DD Bharati - a new 24 hour cultural satellite channel - could promote the potential benefits of traditional Indian health systems as well as exploring the Indian heritage of music, dance, architecture and painting.
S Amin Ferdausi (DG Bangladesh Betar) described Bangladesh's policy as aiming at creative and motivational programmes on both national and regional stations. Bangladesh Betar carried six hours daily of programmes on public health issues; programmes were broadcast to encourage people to exercise their franchise in a framework of free and fair elections. The challenges facing broadcasters were those of avoiding a top down approach (a participatory approach was needed) and creating an all-embracing schedule of programmes on a wide range of issues. Listener research needed to be strengthened in order to do this more effectively. Tajul Islam (BRAC) argued that there was resistance in Bangladesh Betar to giving too much space to the ngo sector. Mr Ferdausi said that both BB and BTV lent every co-operation to the ngos. Muhammad Jehangir said presently BTV can buy in private programmes but Bangladesh Betar cannot. 'If this can happen', he said, ' private sector companies can make development programmes'. He pointed to BTV's policy of buying time from private producers, but said that 95% of this was for entertainment programmes. 'If government is serious about development' he said, ' it should have a quota for development programmes.' Nargis Banu made the point that Proshika had tried unsuccessfully to air programmes on BB. The Director General said he would look into these suggestions.
Communication for development - Narrowing the focus: Communication
in ngo strategies.
Mir Masrur Zaman and Zannatul Ferdous Snigdha, presenting a paper on ‘MMC’s Planning for Rural Radio’, spoke about Mass Line Media’s work in coastal and rural areas of Bangladesh. They stressed MMC’s commitment to ensure freedom of expression and opinion and a free flow of information through the media. MMC believes that the mass media can act as a key factor for the development of the rural poor.
The two representatives
of MMC outlined plans to set up a community radio station in the coastal
areas of Bangladesh. They said that this was an area of low literacy,
where even the literate were often too poor to buy newspapers. In
Patuakhali district, Bangladesh Betar was the only medium to reach
the people and even BB did not always reach the target area during
storms and cyclones. More than two thirds of the programme content
of BB was entertainment programmes. BB was a one-way medium in which
the listeners were only receivers; it was also an instrument of government
propaganda. Mass Line Media had applied for a radio licence in 1998.
With DANIDA support, they were planning a 5 kilowatt transmitter with
a 200ft transmitter which should reach the whole of the Barisal division.
The aim of MMC’s rural radio was ‘…to create easy and direct access
to the media for grassroots people of the project area in relation
to the restoration of human rights, the expedition of the development
process, the institutionalisation of democratic practice and the use
of information for poverty alleviation. They were aiming at a community
radio ' of the people, by the people, for the people'.
Pointing to experience in Africa, she took the example of Uganda, where with 32 FM stations only one was community owned. There was a lot of religious broadcasting. But there was a more creative relationship between private FM stations, politics and development ngos. The government took a pro-active policy in issuing licensing for FM stations in all principal towns FM channels carried current affairs programmes and other strands of popular programming that attracted advertisers. In opening up a whole range of issues to public discussion, the medium had transformed democracy in Uganda. Ministers and even the president would join in phone line discussions creating a lively public arena .
Zambia had fostered a grass roots -level radio project in the form of Radio Listening Clubs -a forum invented in Zimbabwe. The project aimed to promote new initiatives for development through Radio in the Bemba language. Rural Women's clubs had broken new ground in promoting debate and feedback on women’s issues; eg a discussion on abortion, on inheritance law, and on providing schooling for AIDS orphans. Although the programmes were produced in collaboration with the national broadcaster, the initiative would be equally effective with a local broadcaster.
An evaluation of the project was published in October 2001. The project ran from Nov 1998 to May 2001, involving 13 rural women's clubs in the Mpika district of Zambia, 600 km north of Lusaka. The clubs recorded their discussions of development issues or requests for development support; the tapes were sent to a radio producer in Lusaka, who recorded a response from a relevant service?provider or politician. The discussion and response were edited into one programme and broadcast as a regular weekly programme by the national broadcaster, ZNBC. The clubs listened to the programmes and discussed them at their weekly meetings. The evaluation assessed the development impact of the project, principally through group discussions and interviews with members of the clubs and others in their communities. An audience survey was also carried out, in 3 different areas.
Panos Southern Africa had identified a set of 25 indicators with which to measure progress in reaching the four principal Objectives of the DTR Radio Listening Clubs:
1: Enable clubs to bring development to themselves and their communities. The clubs had succeeded in bringing considerable development finance and assistance to their communities raising the status of the clubs and the project in the community. One of the principal benefits of the programmes is seen as the sharing of information. Some community members attribute to the project an increased awareness of the value of information and education in general. They have also stimulated new community actions. One community established a voluntary school for orphans in response to a radio programme about the problem of AIDS orphans who cannot pay school fees. Overall, the DTR project seems to have stimulated a recognition, in the clubs themselves and widely in the communities, of the valuable role women can play as educators. An improvement in gender relations was mentioned as one of the benefits of the project.
2: Empowerment of Women. Many club members said their husbands were encouraging the clubs, starting within their own homes. The club members are proud of the fact that they are listened to all over the country, and that senior officials and politicians respond to their programmes on the radio: this confirms for them that the issues they discuss are important and universal.
3: Getting the voice of rural women heard and influential in national development discourse. An audience survey carried out just before these evaluation meetings had confirmed the popularity of the programme: There was a clear feeling that voicing complaints through radio was much more effective than writing letters.
4: Stimulate debate.
Club members reported that they talked about the programme with people
from other villages. Topics include agriculture, nutrition and balanced
diets, gender equality, protection against HIV/AIDS, political rights
and processes, the inheritance law, traditional customs, care of children,
care of orphans, education and its cost.
Dr Dutta said that despite the lack of access to the media, Proshika would continue to make an effort to spread discussion of developmental issues by whatever means available. The alternative was 'just to forget'. Questioned about the ngos' response to terrorism, Dr Dutta said that it was the acts of terrorism which themselves attract attention. He denied a suggestion that ngo members were in some way bound to listen to the ngo and that this was a violation of human rights; Proshika members were not compelled to listen to Proshika messages.
BK Mohanty (Doordarshan India) wanted to get away from the idea of radio as a hegemonic influence, and promote the transfer of information from different sources on equal terms.
Session 4 Gender
and Development - Targeting the media - A South Asian Regional perspective
referred to the general lack of research on Bangladesh radio and TV
and her experience of working with Proshika on issues of development.
She started her presentation with some definitions. Gender was defined
as a system of relationships between men and women; development as
change for the better. She had been involved in two research projects
on Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh TV. She said the mainstream media
perpetuate and reinforce negative and stereotypical images of men
and women. They fail to give a realistic picture of women's multiple
roles. Where serials portray women, there is always conflict in the
family. The message seems to be: AGo to work and break your family@.
Women feature in violence, as symbols of sex, but rarely as active
agents of change. The media generally gives more importance to men
in interviews with the public and uses gender insensitive vocabulary.
Women need to be projected as agents of change and to be involved
in making programmes themselves. When women are involved, she said,
the message changes. The challenge for the media was to promote messages
that are targeted at women and men, to make people aware of patriarchal
values, to improve women's access to production and decision making
and to promote non-stereotypical representation.
Sajid Mansur Qaisrani (Aurat Foundation Pakistan) addressed three topics 1) the state of the media in Pakistan 2) role of ngos in civil society and in the media 3) the experience of the Aurat Foundation. He said that General Zia ul Haq's curbs on music had been the death of radio in Pakistan and TV had been going down hill from the 1980s for the same reason. The role of women in development was not covered by either radio or TV news. Development news on TV was synonymous with propaganda. The focus was on VIPs opening bridges. Ngos were not featured. Only in drama had the issues been aired.
From a 1997 commission
of enquiry into the status of women in Pakistan, Qaisrani identified
a finding that women were invisible in the media, particularly working
women, and that the media had created an atmosphere in which marginalised
communities can be oppressed. An impression was created that serious
matters of public concern were only of interest to men; women were
segregated from participation in open debate. UNDP had subsequently
held a number of workshops and the British Council had funded gender
training for broadcasters. PTV had issued guidelines. Both the Pakistan
Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Pakistan) and PTV carry a one hour
daily programme for women. But while PBC was willing to run programmes
as presented by an ngo or outside agency, PTV was seen as less accommodating.
The Aurat Foundation had held two conferences for women peasants in
1993. The women had said that they were not getting information on
new technologies (extension workers only dealt with men). As a result
the Foundation devised a drama series on agricultural technology to
include social messages funded by UNIFEM which had run for 6 months
in1993-94. 177 listening centres had been established and provided
with radios and cassette recorders; they had succeeded in the aim
of promoting feedback. Programmes were available to a potential audience
of 44 million, of which 11 million were women. During last year's
local elections, the Aurat Foundation had developed radio programmes
and a 50' TV programme to encourage women's participation. Radio Pakistan
had been prepared to run the programmes but only on payment. Pakistan
Television PTV had refused to run the programme.
Simi Raheal (actor/producer, Lahore, Pakistan) spoke about changes that had been introduced in Pakistan Television (PTV) since 1997 following research into gender portrayal. PTV aimed to improve the treatment of social issues. It had rebuilt the capacity of its Training Academy and secured the cooperation of international consultants to carry out training in gender sensitisation. 20 training sessions had been held so far for 400 persons involved in the production process. Gender committees had been formed at all 5 PTV centres and a woman had been appointed to the PTV censor board for the first time. PTV had introduced a ban on screen violence against women and children. From 8 March 1999, it had also introduced a one hour programme at 10 am called Khawateen Times targeting women of all age groups. Simi Raheal was also associated with Himmat, an ngo committed to promoting a more sensitive portrayal of women in the media. Himmat had been founded in 1986 and had chapters in the five main Pakistani cities, providing qualitative feedback to PTV from civil society. Further research had recently been commissioned to look at different aspects of the portrayal of women in TV programmes. She stressed the need for a research component in any media related initiative. There was a duty to make all broadcasters and our children gender-conscious and this meant taking into account the portrayal both of men and women.
In discussion Nirupama Sarma supported the view that concentration on a single gender was unhelpful. She said PTV was to be congratulated on its efforts to promote organisational change. Faridur Rahman of Bangladesh Television disclaimed responsibility for a programme to which people had taken objection. He said it had been forced onto the air by influential intellectuals. Arifa Sharmin said there was a need to make Bangladesh Television producers more gender sensitive. Simi Raheal said in Pakistan, adverts had been pulled after pressure from women and on 8 March a play was to be aired in which a man returns to his wife after many years and is shown the guest room. Muhammad Jahangir said discussion of gender tended to focus on urban women's concerns. But there was a silent revolution going on in the rural areas, spearheaded by women, which was not reflected in the press and media.
Session 5 The
contribution of new communications technologies to rural development
S Senthilkumaran (Pondicherry Information Village research project) explained that in an experiment in electronic knowledge delivery to the poor, the MS Swaminatham Research Foundation (MSSRF) connected ten villages near Pondicherry in southern India by a hybrid wired and wireless network consisting of PCs, telephones, VHF duplex radio devices, Spread Spectrum wireless technology, and email connectivity through dial-up telephone lines, to enable villagers to get information they need. The project draws on the holistic philosophy of Dr MS Swaminathan which emphasises collective action for the spread of technology, an integrated pro-poor, pro-women, pro-nature orientation to development, and community ownership (rather than personal or family ownership) of technological tools. Local volunteers using the local language Tamil, gather information and feed it into an intranet accessible in villages throughout the network. Most of the volunteers providing primary information are women. The creation and updating of content is designed to meet local community needs. 'Rural Yellow Pages’ have been designed to carry local advertisements eg who is renting a tractor and at what price; a tailor selling his old sewing machine of someone renovating his house can advertise the sale of old bricks and tiles.
The aims and objectives
of the project include: 1) setting up Knowledge Centres (KCs) in the
villages to enable rural families to access a basket of modern information
and communication technologies; 2) training rural youth in the organisation
and maintenance of a system to generate relevant local information;
3) conducting impact assessment through the organisation of surveys,
participatory rural appraisal, and other appropriate methods of data
Sameera Huque (DRIK Bangladesh) introduced a video presentation 'Out of Focus' DRIK was a private organisation which does not rely on donor funds. It aims to encourage young people who are keen to become photographers. Four young people who had been trained by DRIK worked on the Ekushey TV programme 'Mukhta Khobar'. But she said there is a lack of commercial or other TV outlets in Bangladesh and Pakistan. This means that creative people turn to ngos for outlets to make films on social issues.
asked why few ngos go for media activities in India in contrast to
Nargis Banu pointed out that audio cassettes were also used by women to communicate with their husbands who were working in the Middle East. At Eid there had been an extensive use of cell phones for such international calls. B.S Bhatia said that the Indian Ministry of Information Technology had set up computer centres in North Eastern India. In a link up with the medical authorities, ISRO was also setting up 5 tele-medicine centres in different parts of India. Indira Gajaraj said that the land reform department in Karnataka had been computerised giving farmers access to a data bank. Muhammad Jehangir pointed to the popularity of solar energy in rural areas providing a potentially very strong tool for development.
Mahfuz Anam spoke of the growth of democracy in Bangladesh and the confidence since it was restored in 1991 that it will stay. He said: 'I don't know any country where so many dictatorships have been defeated by emaciated, half starved, illiterate people.' Comparing Bangladesh with Indonesia, the Philippines or Cuba, he said ' the same face for 45 years would drive us mad... we are too impatient, too anti-authoritarian.' Mahfuz Anam endorsed the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen's view that freedom is the best guarantor of development. And the Bangladesh media - particularly the print media - was playing a vibrant role in maintaining that freedom. There were 18 good newspapers, 4 in English and 14 top class Bengali dailies. The electronic media was 'in a nascent stage' but playing a growing role. There was a consensus on democracy but the media was politically divided which, he said, 'tells on the quality of journalism and credibility'. For the future, he thought the media should be working for good governance, should be more environmentally and gender sensitive, and more socially responsible. It was on the right track but there was a lot to learn.
Aly Zaker spoke as a leading marketing specialist with a wide knowledge of the Bangladesh media and an interest in development communication. He said 'whether it is toothpaste or primary education, the crux of the matter is marketing'. Marketing needed to be used more effectively to promote development goals. In his view, this also meant that the private sector should play a greater role in development communication. At the moment, he said, there is an 'unannounced divide' between the private sector on the one hand and the public sector and non-government organisations on the other. It was a divide which needed to be bridged.
DAY THREE 3 March
Session 6 Local
and national - Making the message relevant
Indira Gajaraj described AIR's farming broadcasts in Karnataka and recent research in 25 villages which underlined their effectiveness. There are 14 AIR stations in Karanataka, including a 1 kw community radio at Hospet, started by H.R.Krishnamurthi in 1991. Earlier Warangal station in Andhra Pradesh had won a Commonwealth prize for its 'bullock cart radio'. In addition to her responsibilities for AIR, she had worked as a consultant with Voices in training community broadcasters in a hamlet near Kolar. She had helped villagers to make a regular programme called Namma Dhwani - our voices. The work had been done in collaboration with Myrada, an ngo which had been working in the area for 18 years. Villagers made their own programmes and the recorded programmes were narrowcast in the village market place on market days. Topics had included a group interview with the bank manager; advice on accounting; interviews with disabled people and with award winning farmers; advice on reproductive health and child welfare, AIDS etc. The community decided what was necessary rather than the AIR executive. Now UNESCO and Voices had paid for studio facilities which had been set up in the panchayat building. Some of the programme material had been regularly broadcast by AIR and included interviews with members of the local self help groups, though these monthly programmes had now been stopped. A question was raised as to whether they were seen as a threat to the village power structure, but it was explained that AIR does not take sponsored programmes as a matter of policy. AIR broadcasts a one hour programme for rural broadcasting every day. It had also been running its Farm and Home programme in support of intensive agriculture since 1966. As an example of the kind of subjects covered, Indira had made a programme called Papama and her friends, which featured the work of some 6000 women who were de-silting lakes which provide fresh water for drinking and irrigation. Papama was a bold woman who had also composed some forty songs. The programme had won a national prize for AIR Bangalore.
Commenting on AIR Farm and Home programmes, B.K.Mohanty said that AIR acts as a coordinator for experts in a multi-pronged media campaign involving print, radio, TV and film in selected villages. Akashvani has an aura of authority but topics are selected by the community.
Lipon (Chittagong University) focussed on four issues: the
state of local TV in Chittagong; the accessibility and penetration
of TV; public expectation from the media; and the need to minimise
the communication gap between local and national.
said that radio had the capacity to reach a large number of listeners
in a small area. Kawsar Chowdhury referred to the
experience of the people in of Moheshkhali island in his home district
of Cox's Bazaar. In November 1971 a warning had been broadcast of
the cyclone but the signal was not understood. 20,000 people had been
lost ' because they did not understand flood warnings in Bengali.'
It was essential especially in Sylhet and Chittagong to broadcast
warnings messages sin the local dialect . The local station in Chittagong
broadcasting national programmes is not effective. There was a lack
of audience research by the national broadcaster, but there had been
some private research. He suggested that University departments of
Mass communication should undertake such research. A question was
also raised as to who would be responsible for implementing changes
in the light of the findings of research on the media. Madud
Safdar (BTV) agreed that ' we need to research the use of
local languages'. Faridur Rahman had been at the
Chittagong station in May 1997 during that cyclone, when it was decided
to put out messages in the local language but he did not know if the
practice still continues. B.S.Bhatia underlined the
need to pre-test messages to see whether they were being understood.
Asoka Dias, commenting on Sri Lankan experience,
said that news translators tend to use a technical glossary for weather
forecasts which meant that local people often did not understand what
was being said. The language and terminology should be appropriate
and intelligible to ordinary people. Dulal Biswas
also said that the categorisation of the strength of a cyclone by
a numbering system was not understood. He said that not only language
but ethnicity and religion should also be taken into account in broadcast
communication. Minorities were not represented in the media
Session 7 Discussion
followed by Open forum
Hilmy Ahamed (Young
Asia TV, Colombo) said Worldview Foundation had been working on participatory
video in Bangladesh in the 1980s and he was delighted to see what
an impact it was making. He said 'in our opinion there aren't many
public service broadcasters in the developing world because of commercial
pressures'. He then described the alternative programmes that YATV
aimed to provide for prime time television, reaching out with Asian
culture to an Asian and global audience and starting with the interests
of English speaking urban youth. It was not a Sri Lanka only production.
Funded 49% by private investors and 51% by ngos, YATV has stringers
throughout Asia, including 35 in India. YATV films were not intended
to be used as fillers. They offered an opportunity to reach a large
audience at a fraction on the cost that the UN spent on messages and
focus groups. He also spoke about Worldview's plans for a satellite
channel, which would include 4 or 5 hours of YATV programmes and other
relevant programme material. The plan was to stream programmes to
educational institutions round the world. They wanted to be a ' global
interractive communication support agency for young people' and they
were aiming at the urban youth and leaders of the future.
B.S.Bhatia said that the news was becoming a saleable commodity, attracting more sponsorship than other programmes, sometimes annoyingly so. But could news be regarded as developmental broadcasting? He did not think that news about a power crisis fitted the description, though according to Hilmy Ahamed this was a big issue in Sri Lanka. Asked whether MTV had suffered pressures from government over its coverage, Asoka Dias said that they had balanced their coverage wherever possible, with ministers and critics like engineers in the same bulletin. Nirupama Sarma said that news alone was not public service broadcasting. There was a need for backup on the ground for public service programming and social films should not be dominated by market priorities. BK Mohanty argued that unlike terrestrial channels, satellite channels do not have a specific target audience. There was a need to take a holistic approach. In response to questions about Worldview's planned new channel, Hilmy Ahamad said that they were offering a chance to UN organisations to spend a proportion of the money spent on programmes on distribution. Rajendra Sharma said that Nepal TV had started a programme called Catmandu for young people, under the influence of YATV.
Rashed Kanchan (Channel I Dhaka) said that Shykh Seraj, the founder of Channel I, had made his reputation as the presenter of a development programmes on BTV - his Mati o Manush (Man and the Soil). Channel I had started in 1998 and was trying to be a partner in development but the economic pressures were considerable. It had initially refused to broadcast tobacco advertisements and had taken part in the campaign against polythene bags. But he stressed the limited market within which a satellite channel was operating and the sometimes over-riding commercial priorities for survival. In 2001, despite its earlier policies, the channel had to decide to take tobacco adverts from 11pm to 6 am. That said, the committed policy of the channel was to run a service in favour of humanity and development. It was carrying programmes on social problems and had its own popular development programme. Asked about the quality of Channel I news, Rashed Kanchan said that its reporters were trained in-house and had their own approach, unlike those of Ekushey, which had had BBC training, but he believed that after ' one year we will be accepted'.
Madud Safdar (BTV Bangladesh) expressing his personal views rather than those of BTV said that there was compelling need for a national capacity for managing change to promote development. He said that a public private partnership was essential especially in the mass media. The government had a duty to provide a regulatory system and broadcasting content. But pluralism in the media was essential to promoting the democratic process including the interests of minority and marginalised communities. He urged active collaboration between the ngos, the private sector and government. The public interest was not the exclusive concern of the public sector; the private sector also had an obligation to come up with solutions to national social problems. He urged the creation of an independent broadcasting and regulatory authority with a mandate and a mission to protect the quality of broadcasting and minimise direct political control. He was personally in favour of maximum de-centralisation and the growth of community radio.
recalled the record of Bangladesh's private terrestrial channel Ekushey
TV, which had shown that news was a popular commodity. The style of
news presentation of ETV was strongly influenced by the BBC which
had trained its news staff; this prompted a comment that ETV's BBC-influenced
news was seen by some critics as presenting a western format and a
western perspective. The children's news programme Mukhta Khobar had
children under 17 editing and producing the programme. With its programme
Desh Dure, the station had shown that development programmes could
also be entertaining, and it had broadcast development documentaries
produced by ngos. Arifa Sharmin commented on a programme
for adolescents on ETV which dealt with real issues in an interesting
way. But she also pointed out that the anchor of its gender series
was a man and she urged the channel to incorporate more women's views.
In the afternoon workshop participants went on a field visit to Proshika supported projects in and near Manikganj.
Nargis Banu (Proshika) showed a short film and made a presentation on the Development Support Communication Programme, a pioneering initiative introduced by Proshika in 1991. A video had been used successfully to gain compensation from government for trees lost in a road-widening scheme. A video team produced a health tape during a cholera outbreak about the causes of diarrhoea. The main objective of the programme was to provide the poor with access to video technology and decentralise responsibility for communication resources aimed at their empowerment. By giving both technical and conceptual training, Proshika had ‘disproved the myth that illiterate poor people could not handle electronic equipment’. The aims of the project include to project villagers’ viewpoints on social issues, to uphold the views of people who may be alienated by the mass media, and to show the causes of poverty and the processes by which people can overcome poverty. Videos make a strong impression and are easy to understand. Village playbacks and the discussions which follow provide opportunities both for mobilisation and organisation.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF WORKSHOP
divided into four working groups to summarise the recommendations
of the workshop on four topics
The Reports of the working groups, endorsed by the workshop participants in full session, are as follows:
1) New communication technologies in development communication
Interactive, information on demand, e-governance, locale specific
Overcome problems such as
Pilot projects need to be facilitated.
B.S.Bhatia also produced some additional guidelines for the use of ICT for Development Broadcasting.
2) Training and Research in Development Communication
The group recommended that training programmes should be developed to remedy these deficiencies. Training institutes would need to be involved. Trainers would need to be recruited from development agencies and media organisations. Courses would need to be targeted at development agencies, media organisations, government and non-government organisations and private organisations (as relevant).
3) Commercial TV and Development
The group listed the following key issues:
4) State broadcasters and Ngos
Priorities for government
Priorities for Ngos