Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Sunday said content promotion and advertisement on social media platforms and over-the-top (OTT) media services will be regulated and brought under the tax net.
He made the statement at an inter-ministerial meeting held through videoconference from the Information Ministry's meeting room, reads a press release.
As per the decision taken at the meeting, a five-member committee has been formed to regulate social media and OTT platforms in the country and to bring them under the tax net.
Paritosh Chandra Das, additional secretary (Broadcasting) of the Ministry of Information, has been made the convener of the committee.
The rest of the committee will comprise of one representative each from the National Board of Revenue (NBR), the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), and the Bangladesh Bank. The fifth member will be a legal expert.
"People are streaming different kinds of content for entertainment and for other purposes using these platforms all over the world – and in our country as well," said Hasan Mahmud.
"But there has been a lot of controversy; content is being displayed without any censorship. The government is not getting proper taxes from these platforms either," the minister added.
He also said these platforms have been used to spread rumours and incite communal riots, urging that these mediums be used properly.
The information minister also said that OTT is a growing field with taxable business opportunities worth crores of taka.
"Besides, a lot of the country's money is going into the pockets of social media companies and other platforms like Netflix, YouTube, etc. But the government is not getting taxes from these companies," he stated.
Mentioning that many countries have introduced rules, he said, "For example, in India, various laws, rules and regulations have been introduced regarding the broadcasting of content of other countries on OTT platforms.
"Facebook has been registered as an Indian company to operate in India. It is not yet registered in Bangladesh, but with the continuous efforts of the Post and Telecommunications Division, we have appointed an agent," Hasan added.
Speaking at the meeting, Post and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said, "We expect social media and OTT platform operators to act responsibly regarding the matters of our social and cultural values, state security, law and order, and other issues.
"They have to run their business respecting the laws and the culture of our country," he added.
Among others, State Minister for Information Md Murad Hasan, Post and Telecommunications Secretary Md Nur-ur-Rahman, Bangladesh Satellite Company Chairman Shahjahan Mahmud, and BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque, also participated in the meeting.