The government has granted primary approval for registration of online portals of 92 daily newspapers. The country’s major dailies have been included in the list.
Of the 92 dailies, 57 are published from Dhaka, two from Mymensingh, 10 from Chattogram, four each from Rajshahi, Rangpur, Khulna and Barishal and seven are brought out from Sylhet.
The information ministry issued a gazette notification in this regard on Thursday.
The gazette said portals of 92 daily newspapers were primarily given permission to register as part of the ongoing registration process of news portals.
The news portals have been requested to complete the registration within 20 working days (September 23) from the date of the publication of the gazette notification by submitting the prescribed fees following the government rules and regulations.
Most of the portals of the major dailies, including leading English daily The Daily Star and Bangla daily Prothom Alo, published from Dhaka were included in the list.
Publication of the gazette notification came two days after a team of Sampadak Parishad (Editors’ Council), a platform of editors of national dailies, called on Information Minister Hasan Mahmud at his secretariat office and requested him to take immediate measures to register the online versions of newspapers.
In response, the minister said measures would be taken to register online versions of newspapers on a priority basis.
Earlier on July 31, 44 news portals and newspaper websites were picked for registration.
After amending the list, the information ministry later allowed 34 news portals to register.
The government had started accepting applications for registration of online media outlets in late 2015. Applications were received the following year by extending the deadline several times.
The government then said all online media outlets would be brought under registration to stop “misreporting”.
The cabinet at a virtual meeting on August 31 this year approved the draft of National Online Media Policy, 2017 (Amendment 2020). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting.
The draft policy says from now on, a newspaper will need registration to run its online version if its contents in the online and the print editions are different.
Licensed television and radio channels will also require the registration to run their news online.
“If contents of the print and online versions of a newspaper are the same, it won’t need approval [registration]. If newspapers bring variation [to the contents] in the online version, they will require to get registered,” Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam had said at a briefing at the secretariat after the cabinet meeting.
“Newspapers are usually doing this [changing contents in the online version from the printed one],” he said.
Political parties and different organisations, including Transparency International Bangladesh, expressed grave concern over the government’s directive to separately register all online portals of the country, particularly those of the long serving national dailies and TV channels.
They said the government’s move was aimed at establishing its total control and intervention in the media.