Yesterday Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) President Nazmul Hassan Papon, upon requests made by members of the media for an audience with him, had called them to his BEXIMCO Pharmaceuticals office where impromptu press briefings have taken place before. However, the unprecedented event of barring certain members of the press took place; the reason given that they were not on the list of attendees. On June 25 the BCB sent out a circular to media houses that only those invited will be allowed to attend press conferences. The following are the relevant excerpts from Papon's discussion on this issue.
Why are some reporters not allowed in?
Nazmul Hassan Papon (NHP): A few days ago we gave a circular to each and every media house, to the effect that from now if we have a press briefing or press conference, those will be only upon invitation, and we are sticking to that and we will continue that. It so happened that I was out of the country, I came back the day before yesterday. Upon coming back many had contacted me wanting to talk for one or two minutes. So today I said, since I cannot give everyone time, I do not like talking to one or two. So I said if they want to come, let them come many at a time. So those who have been asked to come, definitely they are here. There is no reason to leave them out.
Can we ask why Prothom Alo, The Daily Star, Bdnews24.com and Shomoy Television, these reputed media houses, are not on the list?
NHP: Tomorrow someone else might not be on the list. I don't know. Try to understand a simple thing. The issue is not with any particular... no one is targeted here; that is not the issue. It is a sensitive time in Bangladesh and Bangladesh cricket is within Bangladesh. One false interpretation, a negative news can greatly damage our cricket. We don't want to be part of it.
Is that why they are being barred?
NHP: It could be. Anybody can write anything, we have no problem with that; we are open. But we don't want a different explanation to a comment we make which will hurt our cricket. I don't want anyone to blame me for it. For now, we can be a little selective.
We knew that the BCB believed in free press. Do they?
NHP: Did you know the same even after the circular?
So that means you don't.
NHP: No. We believe in free press. Anyone can write anything they want. But we don't want to be involved in it. You can interpret one of my comments in different ways. But if the interpretation hurts cricket, I am not going to be party to that.
Can you give us some examples?
NHP: There are many examples. Watch the TV, look at the newspapers. As far as I know, I try to explain everything. I don't try to hide anything when I talk. Often people tell me to wrap it up quickly, but I still try to say everything in full. For example, suppose I say something to you; after saying it I have a hope that what I said will be represented. But if I see that that very day something else has been represented, what happens then? Then all channels are showing one thing and another channel is showing something else, then it seems I am at fault. It is embarrassing for me.
Is it the board's decision?
NHP: It is a majority decision, not a singular decision.
Can you refuse the role of media in Bangladesh cricket's progress?
NHP: Impossible. Whatever progress Bangladesh cricket has made, I am quite certain that media had a very important role to play. There is no doubt about it.
The issue is not about who could come in and who couldn't today. You will ask us about England tour and I will say something. If someone twists what I say, it will have a huge effect on our cricket. What we are trying to do is that we want to make sure that our message goes correctly. You can write what you want.
Don't you think this could have more of an adverse effect?
NHP: Let's see. At least we are not party to that. We can say that we were not a party to it.
These journalists go to BCB but you're not stopping them. Why are they stopped today?
NHP: I don't know who were stopped from coming in.
Daily Star, Prothom Alo, Somoy TV and Bdnews24.com
NHP: Maybe they were not contacted.
We were informed about it in BCB this morning. We heard it from the BCB but not through an e-mail.
NHP: They were asking me about Mustafizur [Rahman], bowling coach, England tour, etc. I have been trying to speak to everyone together, especially in the last 5-6 months.
Are they here? I think if they are here, we should call them. I am not singling anyone out in the media. Our formal press briefings are upon request. We are changing the entire security environment, like it is in Bangladesh. Everything changes. If you have a problem, you please tell us. We have no problem against anyone in the media.
This office has its own security policy. Maybe they didn't communicate so their name wasn't on the list.
If someone can't be reached, they won't be invited. It can be intentional and in that case, we can talk. We are not targeting anyone individually. If your name is not on the list, security will stop you. It will be the same for me. Leading media house is not the issue. If I went to the Gono Bhaban without prior permission, they will stop me.
Shouldn't BCB press conferences be held in the BCB?
NHP: Any official press conference will be held in the BCB. This is not a press conference.
Those downstairs said that they were acting upon a list given by the BCB.
NHP: It was certainly given by the BCB. You are trying to say that why were the leading media houses not contacted? I think word got out of this around 10am and the message was passed on. There is a possibility that the list wasn't updated properly. I don't know the exact situation.