Mass Communications Bill will address concerns of all: Minister

Kathmandu, May 6

Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota has assured that all issues related to right to information and journalists will be addressed in the draft Mass Communications Bill that the government is planning to register in the Parliament.

Speaking at an interaction organised at the ministry, Minister Baskota said, “I would like to request all stakeholders, activists and journalists to remain calm as we will not endorse the bill without seeking suggestions from concerned bodies.” He also requested journalists to uphold work ethics.

The government had come up with a draft Mass Communications Bill earlier in January that aimed to replace three existing acts related to communications sector — Press and Publication Act 1991, National Broadcasting Act 1991 and Working Journalist Act 1993. Working journalists and various organisations have been urging the government to the right to information and freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution. Journalist Laxman Humagain presenting his working paper ‘From Print Media to Digital Media’ suggested to the government to be extra careful while formulating laws on social media and new media like cinema and online news portals.

Similarly, general secretary of Federation of Nepali Journalists Ramesh Bista said, “The government must not try to control mass media in the name of controlling and monitoring online media that have mushroomed in the last few years.”

Some working journalists demanded categorisation of media houses — national, provincial or local. Media outlets should also be categorised as service-oriented or profit-oriented.