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Mukto Khobor (Free News)
A weekly 25-minute adolescents' news and current affairs programme
with a focus on children and child rights issues.
Ekushey Television Limited
(ETV), Dhaka, People's Republic of Bangladesh
Fuad Chowdhury, Commissioning Editor ETV and Executive Producer
Ekushey Television Limited
10 Karwan Bazar
Dhaka - 1000
Tel: +880 2 812 6535 8
Fax: +880 2 812 1270
Contact in UNICEF:
Zafrin Chowdhury, Communication Officer
P.O. Box 58
Dhaka - 1000
Tel: +880 2 933 6701 to 6720
Fax: +880 2 933 5641 or 5642
Ekushey Television (ETV)
Save the Children Sweden in Bangladesh
Ekushey Television is the first private television network in Bangladesh
to have the same coverage as the national television company, BTV,
with which UNICEF has a programme of cooperation under the auspices
of the Ministry of Information.
ETV started operating in 1999. UNICEF Bangladesh's Communication
Section had an exploratory exchange of ideas with ETV at its formative
stage, from which the concept of Mukto Khobor emerged. UNICEF
was effectively involved from this stage on. Save the Children Sweden
have also shown interest in co- sponsoring Mukto Khobor,
and both agencies were involved in the recruitment of adolescents
and providing child rights training for the young people and adults
who form part of the team.
Mukto Khobor instantly drew an audience and generated interest
among young people and adults.
Aims and objectives
Mukto Khobor is a weekly, 25-minute, adolescents' news and
current affairs programme with a focus on children and child rights
The aims are:
1. To create a space for children in the media; a forum for young
people to express their views on issues and events around them where
they will be heard by children and adults across the social strata.
2. To empower the young journalists by training them in specialized
skills; on the other hand to empower and inspire the large number
of young viewers who draw inspiration from this programme as a good
example of how effectively they could work in the media when given
an opportunity. To help adolescents build self- confidence and self-esteem.
3. To add value to children's views and voices in establishing
that they too can offer opinions and solutions; to change the traditional
idea that children should only listen and not say much.
4. To make this programme a model of equal opportunities for child
participation in the media.
A group of 32 adolescents aged 11-17 of whom 16 are girls and 16
boys. Exactly half belong to privileged groups of society and the
other half to the underprivileged - including working children and
children in difficult circumstances, some of who are barely literate.
A seven-member adult team supports the young journalists, comprising
two producers, one associate producer, one production assistant,
one researcher and two camera crew.
The primary target audiences are children and adolescents in Bangladesh
between the ages of 8 and 18. The programme also interests young
adults up to the age of 25.
The wider beneficiaries include parents, families, communities
and society at large, to some of whom Mukto Khobor is an
eye-opener to child rights and children's views.
Involvement of children
Children and adolescents aged 11-17 are involved in all stages:
planning, researching, designing, reporting, presenting and producing
each episode of Mukto Khobor.
Summary of project
The end-product is a widely-viewed weekly 25-minute news and current
affairs television programme focusing on children's rights.
The young journalists are selected through a child-friendly, yet
competitive process from several hundred applicants from schools
and NGOs (non- governmental organizations).
With no prior experience in the media and with a short course of
training, the children get straight down to work. Every week they
plan, research, design, report and present the programme. With support
from a team of producers and a camera crew, they divide into four
groups of eight and take turns to produce the programme. The first
episode was transmitted on 2 September 2000. Within a very short
time they have shown amazing ease and facility in their work, and
Mukto Khobor has become a highly popular programme that ranks
among the most notable productions of ETV in audience surveys.
It has generated a lot of interest among the audience. At times
there have been tensions and unease between children from different
backgrounds working together but they have overcome this and have
formed excellent working relations.
The Mukto Khobor team within ETV produces the programme.
UNICEF and Save the Children Sweden give professional advice on
child rights issues, making Mukto Khobor an effective vehicle
for the expression of children's voices and views. These two agencies
contribute to children's participation, and to the form and content
of the programme.
Mukto Khobor has an Advisory Group which meets once a month
to give feedback on the past four episodes. This group includes
representatives from children's organizations and the private sector.
Save the Children Sweden in Bangladesh.
The total cost of each weekly 25-minute episode is US$3,430. This
includes production cost and airtime.
Production cost per episode is US$2,830, which is equally shared
by UNICEF and Save the Children Sweden.
The cost of airtime per episode is approximately US$663, which
is borne by ETV. ETV repeats the programme once during the week,
and also provides space, studios and other technical support, which
is not shown in this budget.
Yearly cost for 52 episodes comes to US$178,360.
Strengths of project
The project creates a space for children in the media and a forum
for young people to express their views on issues and events where
they will be heard by children and adults. It directly empowers
the young journalists by giving them specialized skills and increases
their confidence and self-esteem.
It also empowers and inspires a larger number of young viewers
for whom the programme is a good example of how effectively children
can work in the media. Finally, it demonstrates that children and
young people can offer opinions and solutions to contemporary problems,
and challenges the traditional idea that children should listen
but not say much.
It brings together children from different backgrounds and generates
a gender- balanced and socially balanced audience from the outset.
The most difficult challenge is to find ways of persuading adults
to work with adolescents in a way that ensures the children's meaningful
participation. The concept of child rights, especially protection
and participation rights, are still somewhat fuzzy to adults. Even
in the media, not all adults are aware of the dynamics of working
with children, and how to facilitate the process.
ETV, UNICEF and Save the Children have done separate audience surveys,
all of which confirm the wide viewership and popularity of Mukto
Khobor. The number of letters that come to ETV is too large
to manage, quite apart from the telephone calls and visitors received
by ETV in relation to Mukto Khobor. These all indicate a
large audience response, especially from adolescents and young adults.
They say they enjoy the programme, give feedback, and show an interest
in becoming involved with it.
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