The Norman Transcript

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January 6, 2014

Election day tone subdued in Dhaka

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Most of the dead and injured are working people caught by the random violence. Those of us with means have been insulated behind a wall of security.

On Sunday, we walked to Rtv to tour the television studio. The quiet streets were eerie. Normally, Dhaka is alive with horns honking and traffic competing for passage.

Rtv is one of the older and more successful stations in a nation where media is expanding at an astounding rate. There have been 43 licenses issued for TV stations in Dhaka. For the past year about 26 stations are in operation, and about six years ago Rtv leadership told us there were only five stations.

The competition for advertising will not allow all of these stations to survive, but the political climate has bred the sudden expansion as politicians granted licenses to business interests in order to curry favor and gain advantageous coverage, leadership at Rtv told us.

After the tour, we traveled courtesy of Rtv to the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, where we lunched at the Bithika Restaurant. Once known as the International, this hotel was the first five-star hotel in Dhaka. According to OU Journalism Dean Joe Foote, who once lived in Bangladesh while working on a Fulbright, the hotel had a role in the developing nation’s history. Joe and wife Judy Foote, who also worked in Dhaka, taught their children to swim in the hotel’s pool.

Joe Foote said the hotel was once the site of many media gatherings during key events.

Bangladesh is a young nation with an old heart. The Bengali people who form its core are in essence the Indian people, and their culture extends far beyond the British colonization of the land. They have been Buddhist, Hindu and now are predominantly Muslim.

Because this land on the east side of India is Islamic, it first separated from India as part of Pakistan, but language and other differences caused Bangladesh to demand its independence which it gained in 1971.

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