Bangladesh is a poor country of population 144 million on the Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal), touching India and Burma. The country formed in 1971 out of East Pakistan with the support of India after a war of independence against Pakistan. 
- The main broadcasters - Radio Bangladesh and Bangladesh Television (BTV) - are state-owned and favourable to the government. Little coverage is given to the political opposition, except in the run-up to general elections when a caretaker government takes control. Foreign, especially Indian, TV stations have gained large audiences in Dhaka and other cities.
- Media rights organisation Reporters Without Borders says journalists are targeted by Islamist and Maoist groups, as well as officials and politicians.
Bangladesh public relations in the U.S.
- The Washington Group (TWG) is a lobbying and public relations firm owned by the PR firm Ketchum. The Washington Group/Ketchum was hired by Bangladesh in 2005 for public relations purposes. Paperwork filed to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) said that Ketchum "will provide advice and counsel relating to communications activities, develop communications materials and work with media organizations to advance the interests of the foreign principal [Bangladesh]."
- Ketchum answered "Yes" to the question - Will the activities on behalf of the above foreign principal include political activities? The paperwork went on to say that Ketchum would "work with the Embassy of Bangladesh team to develop and refine existing messages to be used in media outreach, ensuring that our messages are consistent and persuasive." Ketchum would work with the Congressional Bangladeshi Caucus "to involve Members of Congress in any media outreach or events." "Possible targets for the media tour include: Cable news shows, Sunday morning news shows, radio talk shows, and national newspapers. If Ketchum Public Affairs has access to a Bangladeshi student, female politician, or other speaker with a compelling story, we recommend an additional media tour to TV and radio interviews."
- The FARA paperwork said in another contract in 2005, that the Washington Group "will provide advice and counsel relating to communications activities, develop communications materials and work with media organizations to advance the interests of the foreign principal [Bangladesh]. The registrant [Washington Group] will contact legislative and executive branch officials regarding U.S. policy toward The People's Republic of Bangladesh." One of the objectives is "To assist in building a positive and correct image of Bangladesh among US policy makers, both in the Administration and in the Congress, as well as in Academic and Media circles." The Washington Group would work to combat any negative reporting about Bangladesh in the U.S. media, think tanks, and academia.
- In 2005 in yet another contract with Bangladesh, the Washington Group wrote in the filed paperwork, "It has been the experience of the Washington Group/Ketchum (TWG/K) during the past four decades that a foreign government's diplomatic, political, and economic effectiveness in Washington can be significantly enhanced with the support of a highly skilled, reputable and bipartisan government relations and communications firm. While the PRB [People's Republic of Bangladesh] has a first class and highly regarded diplomatic mission in Washington, there are numerous complimentary services that can be provided by an outside firm to help the PRB attain its objectives in the U.S."
- As one of its selling points, the Washington Group wrote to the Bangladesh Embassy, our firm "Maintains a suberb network of senior level contacts in the Bush Administration, Congress, executive agencies as well as state and foreign governments".
- Concerning the possibility of President Bush's Visit to Bangladesh, the paperwork said, "Based on our close relationships with senior officials in the Bush Administration and the Secretary of State, we would endeavor to convince the President to add Bangladesh to his itinerary during his upcoming travels to India and Pakistan. Such a visit would be a key enhancement to U.S.-Bangladesh relations. A visit by President Bush to Bangladesh would be an excellent opportunity for him to recognize and express appreciation for the contributions that Bangladesh has made to international peace keeping activities and to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan."
- Concerning the possibility of increasing U.S. money to Bangladesh, the paperwork said, "We would work with the White House, State Department, USAID, Department of Defense and Congress to secure an increase in U.S. funding assistance for the PRB. We are especially well suited to accomplish this goal in light of our highly successful legislative work with the appropriations committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. TWG/K has especially close ties to USAID. We would seek to maximize project opportunities and financial support for Bangladesh."
Public relations in Bangladesh
Banglapedia discusses public relations in Bangladesh in the early years after the country's independence in 1971. The Bangladesh government "instructed the various departments and ministries to launch PR programmes through utilising the existing media and resource support. The different kinds of PR programmes in Bangladesh are designed keeping in view the socio-economic situation in the country. They communicate to the people the plans, programmes, activities and policies of the government and the successes and failures to ensure the support and participation in the governance. The electronic media and interpersonal communication as well as traditional media were put in use for conducting PR programmes. Most people, even in the urban areas did not have adequate access to newspapers, periodicals, booklets and other printed matters."
Since only a small percentage of people in the country have access to newspapers or other print media, additional methods of reaching the people have been used. The Banglapedia article goes on to say, "Film has long been a popular PR medium in Bangladesh. Film is an effective medium for carrying out PR programmes for the illiterate people. The PR practitioners often take help of the Film Development Corporation, the lone full-fledged film production centre in Dhaka. Once a film is produced, it needs a certificate from the Film Censor Board. The government's film unit and the publication department were merged to create a special organisation of the name Department of Films and Publications, which produces newsreels and documentary films and publishes posters, booklets, books, magazines and other publications under the government's PR programmes. The organisation, which disseminates information about the policies and programmes of the government of Bangladesh through mass media, is the Press Information Department (PID)... The PID central office gives accreditation cards to local and foreign newsmen working in Bangladesh." 
- Iajuddin Ahmed, President
- Fakhruddin Ahmed, Head of interim government since January 2007, former head of the central bank
Related SourceWatch articles
- Bangladesh, National Geographic, accessed February 2008.
- Country profile: Bangladesh, BBC, accessed February 2008.
- Ketchum registration statement, U.S. Department of Justice, accessed February 2008.
- Washington Group registration statement, U.S. Department of Justice, November 9, 2005.
- Washington Group registration statement, U.S. Department of Justice, September 30, 2005.
- Public Relations, Banglapedia, accessed February 2008.
- Sabir Mustafa, "Bangladesh at a crossroads", BBC, April 5, 2007.
- Timeline: Bangladesh, BBC, accessed February 2008.