On 16 June 1974, the Awami League government led fathers of PM and several other senior ministers and MPS of current government, decided to shut down all print media except two government run newspapers. In addition government took over the ownership of two leading but privately owned newspapers ( Daily Ittefaq and Daily Observer) and kept them running as government mouth pieces.
Since then 16th June used to be observed by journalists in Bangladesh as black day as thousands of jouralists lost their livelihood instantly. However as the years passed, younger generation jouranalists choose to forget 16th June evets and 16th June is no longer a black days. At least if yu scan the mainstream media in Bangladesh, you hardly seeany mention of it.
Media definitely has its bias towards Awami League and it is less to AL’s credit than to BNPs fault. BNP leadership or policy makers never made it a priority to take smart steps and befriend junior media personnel. Hence smaller acts of aggression on Media by BNP governments get much more media atention than bigger attacks by successive Awami League governments. Events like a police officers fist fight with a elderly photojournalist, or arrest of a stinger etc attarcts disproportionately more protests/ criticism from media than large scale crackdown by Awami League governments.
There is no dobt that if one looks deep into the facts, media suffered much more at the hands of Awami League than BNP. Even when Awami League was in opposition, media was not immune from acts of aggression by Awami League leadership.
Not taking lesson from 16th june events, when Awami came back to power next time, it decided to shut down four very popular governmet run weeklies and dailies. Although financial problems was shown by the government as the main reason, it was very clear that the closure was done simply out of vengence on the journalists working on those outlets. PM had to settle some score with Nirmal Sen for his famous headline, ‘Swavik Mrittur Guarantee Chai…’ or Shahadat Chowdhury for being supportive of popular President Ziaur Rahman. And during the time it was closed, both weekly Bichitra and Daily Doinik Bangla was very much financially viable sec to Bichitra’s popularity and government ad revenue to Doinik Bangla. After closing down veryu popular barnd Bichitra, PM sister Sheikh Rehana was given the ownership of the name and she ran an abysmal weekly on the same name before killing it.
When 3rd Awami League government came back to power, in addition to print media, it had to deal with electronic media. Keeping up its tradition, government imposed a harsh gag on all electronc media, preventing them from iviting guests critical of government’s acts. In quick succession it closed down two TV channels and one newspaper, arrested one editor and is currently torturing him under custody.
In 18 months of its rule, government also did not hesitate impose draconian rules like blocking Youtube, esnipe, facebbok.