NGO-led Community Radio in Bangladesh: Democratizing Communication?

Reza, S.M. Shameem. 2018. NGO-led Community Radio in Bangladesh: Democratizing Communication?. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This study is an investigation into the operation on the ground of community radio (CR) in Bangladesh. The thesis argues, on the basis of fieldwork conducted at various CR sites, that the heavy involvement of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) poses a number of problems. Their domination of the sector, and their formative influence in the campaign for the introduction of CR in the first place, has tended to reduce the potential of the medium to generate democratization of communication. Simultaneously, the initiator-NGOs’ dominant role and protectionist approach to operations has generated a lack of active community participation and reduced community access to the medium. We have not, therefore, witnessed the emergence of an alternative public sphere in any meaningful way. Indeed, their efforts to institutionalize programing and broadcasting are indicative of a process moving towards the ‘NGO-ization’ of CR. This process is setting limits to the democratic potential of the medium.

The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in selected community radio station (CRS) areas, supplemented by qualitative research methods such as interview and focus group discussion (FGD). In practice, the NGO-guided CR only partially reflects the key values that constitute this participatory medium. The marginalised and excluded are yet to own and manage a CRS or have any decision-making authority. In the current status quo, local communities are unable to use the stations as a discursive arena in which to challenge dominant socio-political discourses. Nonetheless, initiator NGOs have trained local volunteers and the contributions of the CRSs during natural disasters is noteworthy. Furthermore, CR has demonstrated its utility as a means to support local development, i.e. as a form of local development radio. This, however, falls short of the true potential of CR. Thus, the thesis concludes with the overall observation that NGO involvement is failing to facilitate the proper democratic development of CR in Bangladesh.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Community Radio, Democratization of communication, NGO-ization, Development Communication, Community participation, Public sphere, NGO and communication

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


30 June 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Aug 2018 14:51

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:13


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