Media warns it could form independent regulatory body

Kathmandu, May 21

Federation of Nepali Journalists Chair Govinda Acharya today warned that if the government didn’t address their concerns regarding the media bills, including Medial Council bill, the media fraternity would form its own regulatory or an Independent Press Council.

Addressing a discussion organised by Centre for Media Research-Nepal, Acharya said they could come up with a media council like in Australia, where media have formed their own regulatory organisation.

He cited from the Media Council Bill which stated that the Media Council is like a department of a ministry. The bill allows the Media Council to fine a journalist from Rs 25,000 up to one million.

“How can the Media Council come up with fine for a journalist? Only judiciary has that authority,” he said.

Acharya even said that if required, the Federation of Nepali Journalists could ask the International Federation of Journalists and United Nations rapporteurs to visit Nepal to assess the situation of the Nepali press.

“We are a part of the UN and we can invite them in here,” he said.

Professor P Kharel said as the constitution guaranteed press freedom, it could not be curbed under any pretexts.  He also said that there should not be any provisions of fine in the Media Council Bill.

Senior Journalist Rajendra Dahal said those who were in power had come up with the ideology that they should run and monitor the media, which he called totally wrong.

He also said although the ruling Nepali Communist Party (NCP) could pass the bill from the House technically, it  would not put the fight of the journalists for press freedom to an end. “We should keep on fighting until the battle is won,” he said.