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26 Sep 2008 - 31 Jan 2011
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Creating political dialogue in Bangladesh
We are working in partnership with the BBC Bangla Service and television stations in Bangladesh to produce ground-breaking political debate programmes that allow people to question and interact with decision-makers.

Start date: November 2005
End date: January 2010
Media Type: television, radio, mobile phone
Issue: governance
Country: Bangladesh
I didn't know that people like me could pose questions to politicians in this way
Woman, 32, Bheramera, Kustia
Bangladesh Sanglap (Dialogue on Bangladesh) is a weekly political debate programme filmed in front of a studio audience.

Made in conjunction with the BBC Bengali service, the programme is broadcast on Channel I, a private television station in Bangladesh, as well as BBC radio and online.
The aim of Bangladesh Sanglap is quite simple. We want it to become perfectly normal for politicians, along with other public figures, to make themselves available to answer questions and explain their policies and decisions.
Voters need information on the policies of the different political parties, and the strategies behind decisions that have a direct impact on their lives.
"I didn't know that people like me could pose questions to politicians in this way."
Woman, 32, Bheramera, Kustia
The concept
The concept is deceptively simple: bring a group of people, drawn from all sections of the community, face-to-face with those with influence in the country: politicians, business leaders, the heads of NGOs and other decision-makers.
The audience ask questions on topics of their choice, while an experienced presenter chairs the proceedings.
The event is broadcast across the country on television, radio and online.
The result:
  • 7 million people tune into Bangladesh Sanglap every week
  • 86% of the audience surveyed felt that the programmes have improved political debate in Bangladesh
  • 78% thought the programmes helped to ensure transparency and accountability
Bringing the debate to the people
The debates have been held in locations across Bangladesh, including remote rural areas accessible by boat, so that people throughout the country can participate.
Some programmes cover specific themes, such as climate change, education or health, and include investigative reports.
Vans equipped with video players, projectors and screens have travelled to remote areas to show the programmes to people who do not have access to satellite or cable television.
Research and impact
Before launching Bangladesh Sanglap, we carried out a national opinion poll: 'The Pulse of Bangladesh'.
It was the first survey of its kind, and revealed that trust in government officials was lower than that vested in religious leaders, intellectuals and the army.
People told us they wanted better access to politicians, and there was a general feeling that the poor had no access at all.
When politicians did appear in the broadcast media, they were quick to apportion blame rather than to debate constructively with their political opponents. And they tended to speak in a language that few understood.
Both qualitative and quantitative research is carried out. It shows that:
  • 86% of Sanglap audiences believe this programme has improved political debate
  • 89% believe it explains issues in a way that they can understand
  • 91% of the surveyed audience believed the programmes helped raise the 'voice of the people', especially those from deprived backgrounds
  • 80% believe it has established a good standard for political discussions programmes on TV & Radio
  • Public demand for debate and accountability is building, and other local broadcasters have responded by producing more of their own programmes which reflect audience views and concerns on governance matters
Informed political decisions
If they see this type of programme, they will stop the violence
Md. Obaydul Hakim, 50, Satkania, Chittagong
"Before, we didn't know the views of different political parties. Now we know what they're saying and will remember their views when we vote." Woman, 29, Ishwardi, Pabna

Members of the studio audience say that seeing and hearing politicians on Bangladesh Sanglap is helping them to assess political positions on election issues.
They say they will consider this information when deciding how to vote in the next elections.
"Our voters are not aware. This is why our electoral process doesn't work soundly. If Bangladesh Sanglap helps them become aware, then the electoral process will work well and people will elect qualified candidates."
Man, 26, Varamara, Kushtia
"I enjoyed Bangladesh Sanglap very much. People resort to violence in elections. If they see this type of programme, they will stop the violence."
Md. Obaydul Hakim, 50, Satkania, Chittagong
Working in partnership
Bangladesh Sanglap is produced in partnership with the BBC Bengali Service and the private satellite television station Channel I.
BBC Bangladesh Sanglap - video
Bangladesh Sanglap: ten stories
Related links
The Bangladesh Sanglap story
Bangladesh Sanglap: London special
Voices: "it was exciting to debate important issues"
More about our work in Bangladesh
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