Thursday, March 04, 2010

BBC Bangla to explore Bangladesh connectivity in special series

Channel i to broadcast TV content - multimedia series to run across radio, text, audio and video via BBC As the government of Bangladesh has announced its ambition to digitalise the country by 2021, in time for the nation's 50th anniversary, BBC Bangla investigates the project's chances for success in a special series of programmes.

In Jogajog Bangladesh (Connectivity Bangladesh), from Wednesday 10 to Friday 19 March, BBC Bangla provides audiences with an insight in all things digital in Bangladesh - and the country's digital future. The multimedia content will be broadcast on radio, online on - in text, audio and video - as well as by Bangladesh's Channel i television.

Head of BBC Bangla, Sabir Mustafa, says: "Arguably, full digitalisation of Bangladesh, where less than one per cent of the population is currently connected, is a tall order. "On the other hand, mobile phone use has expanded phenomenally in the past 15 years, and development organisations and private companies have stepped in to connect the rural population to the internet through a network of centres and direct-to-home services. "The BBC Bangla team is exploring the subject from a range of angles, to offer audiences an in-depth and comprehensive look at the extraordinary task."

Presented by Akbar Hossain and produced by Pulak Gupta, the eight BBC Bangla video news stories about digital connectivity in Bangladesh will be broadcast by Channel i in its prime-time news bulletin from Wednesday 10 to Wednesday 17 March, thanks to a special agreement with Channel i. In addition to television, the BBC Bangla series will also be available on shortwave and FM radio and online.

What does e-governance mean for Bangladesh's bureaucracy and public sector services? BBC Bangla follows an upazila (sub-district council) official and two members of the public who are seeking the council's assistance to establish whether digitalisation is changing the way bureaucracy works.

BBC Bangla also assesses whether the government's ambition to link hospitals across the country through internet video, thus giving patients in remote areas the opportunity to be consulted by top doctors in the capital, is realistic.

Bangladesh is mainly an agricultural country - how is digital connectivity being used to improve the lives of farmers? BBC Bangla follows a farmer to a rural 'tele-centre' where he requests information on fertilisers and pesticides, and asks him what difference the use of the internet has made to his work.

BBC Bangla also documents how information delivered via SMS is helping farmers get better prices and deliver their produce to the markets at the best possible time. Another highlight of Jogajog Bangladesh is InfoLadies - the 'digital foot-doctors of Bangladesh' - who ride the length and breadth of the country on their bicycles. With netbooks connected via mobile internet cards, hey visit rural households to bring the internet to their doorsteps. The BBC Bangla crew follows one such InfoLady, documenting her day, and also talks to the scheme's benefactors to find out if it is bringing any change to their lives. BBC Bangla also looks at how the internet has affected Ghataks, the traditional Bengali matchmakers. The BBC reports from a Ghatak's office, following the matchmaker's interaction with clients over the internet. BBC Bangla is also following another Ghatak who comes to a tele-centre, seeking information about a potential groom's employment situation... Jogajog Bangladesh culminates on Friday 19 March on all platforms with a live Have Your Say debate.

Produced and presented from the Channel i studios, the programme will hear multimedia audiences' views on whether Bangladesh can leapfrog into the digital age by 2021.

BBC Bangla is a multimedia service, offering news and current affairs, sports, science, and cultural features to the Bengali-speaking community worldwide and is regarded as a reference point for accuracy and impartiality.

BBC Bangla radio is available in Bangladesh on BBC 100 FM in Dhaka, 101.2 FM in Comilla, 102 FM in Khulna, 105.4 FM in Chittagong, 105 FM in Rajashahi, 105.4 FM in Rangpur and 105 FM in Sylhet.

Bangla speakers across the world can also access BBC Bangla programmes in audio at

Radio programmes include the daily morning news and current affairs programmes Provati at 6.30am and Prattyusha at 7.30am (Bangladesh Time), the daily evening programme Probaho at 7.30pm and late-night programme Parikrama at 10.30pm.

Audiences can also take part in phone-in programmes each Monday and Saturday evening. The in-depth current-affairs programme This World is broadcast on Tuesdays, Interview Of The Week on Wednesdays, and the science programme Bigyaner Ashor on Thursdays. On Fridays, there is a documentary series Dharabahik, and at the weekends there is the sports magazine programme Mathe Maidaney (Saturdays) and the listeners' letters programme Pritibhajoneshu (Sundays).

(BBC World Service International Publicity)

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