The local television industry is unlikely to recover from the crisis of confidence that hit it in recent years following the TV channels’ dependence on foreign serials unless the government intervenes to settle the issues.
The broadcast of Bangla-dubbed foreign drama series – as well as recruitment of foreign professionals and the highly unpopular commercial breaks – has been a highly controversial issue in the industry, dividing the TV channel managers, actors, directors and the audience into two clear lines.
The protesters, led by the Federation of Television Professionals Organisation, want the channels to concentrate more on local productions and a ban on foreign serials and professionals.
Sources say, the TV channels started to broadcast foreign series in a bid to gain back the trust of audience, who seemed to have lost interest in ad-filled local contents, and it worked partially.
But in the end, the protesters say, it caused more harm than good, as the proliferation of foreign contents resulted in the loss of jobs for local professionals as well as spread of a culture harmful to native values.
‘The television industry will fail completely if FTPO’s demands are not met. Our aim is to save the local industry, and we hope the government and TV channels owners will come to realise that,’ said actor-director Mamunur Rashid, convener of FTPO.
‘We have to do away with foreign serials, unless they are related to education, sports, children and such subjects. At the same time, to attract the audience, we need to address issues causing the standards of local contents to fall,’ he added.
To that end, FTPO has a few suggestions such as reducing the channels’ dependence on the ad agencies, increasing the budget for local productions, and limited commercials.
‘If the channels cannot strengthen their programme departments to produce and ensure quality productions, we will lose our audience inevitably,’ said Mamunur Rashid.
Meanwhile, the government has formed a committee to evaluate the demands of FTPO. The committee, headed by Bangladesh Television director general SM Haroon-or-Rashid, had its first meeting on Tuesday.
‘We are working on a list of recommendations to be sent to the information ministry so that the ministry can look into the issues and take steps accordingly,’ said SM Haroon-or-Rashid.
There are some demands that need specification and further clarification and the committee is working on them, too.
‘For example, it is not possible to ban every foreign programme or force the channels to reduce the number of commercials all on a sudden,’ he added.
‘Plus, we must also evaluate the audience demands in these issues.’
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from TV