Nepal | October 23, 2020

NA committee endorses Media Council Bill

Himalayan News Service
Share Now:

Kathmandu, January 27

The Legislation Committee of the National Assembly today endorsed the Media Council Bill removing all controversial provisions of punishment.

The Bill introduced by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology had provisioned up to Rs 1 million fine against journalists, editors and publishers if they breached the code of conduct issued by the council.

The provision drew severe criticism from both civil society members and journalists, and it was widely seen as the government’s deliberate attempt to curb freedom of press and expression. The Federation of Nepali Journalists even staged phase-wise protests across the country.

The House committee’s member and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Thagendra Prakash Puri said the Bill was amended by completely removing provisions that the council would accept complaints related to media outlets undermining the prestige and dignity of individuals, investigate such complaints and slap penalty on journalists, editors and publishers.

“As per the new provision, the council will work to forge reconciliation if any dispute arises,” Puri told THT. “However, a person claiming to be victim of media outlets undermining prestige and dignity can directly move =the court and the issue will be settled through regular judicial process.”

The Bill had originally provisioned that the Media Council would recommend to the court action against such media outlets undermining prestige and dignity of individuals. But now, such individuals can go directly to the court.

The committee has also amended the preamble of the Bill by stating that the Media Council will be autonomous and competent body.

Similarly, the new amendment has proposed 11-member Media Council from the previously proposed nine members. As per the new provision, the council will have one chairperson and 10 members.

The members include president of FNJ and seven representatives from all seven provinces. Of the seven members, three will be elected and three will represent print, online and broadcast outlets. One member will be afrom mong professors or assistant professors of journalism.

The amendment has also set new qualification criteria for chairperson and members. As per the new provision, the chairperson of Media Council should be a person who is eligible to become Supreme Court justice, or a journalist having at least 15 years of experience in journalism making extraordinary contributions to the sector.

Similarly, the fresh amendment has completely removed the provision of forming a recommendation committee led by a government secretary.

Another new provision in the Bill is issuance of journalist licence through examination. This provision was not in the original bill but was added through amendment.

The committee’s member and Nepali Congress lawmaker Anita Devkota said the NC registered their reservation against such provision, which was not in any South Asian country. “We are going to raise the issue in the Parliament as well,”

Devkota told THT. “We are of the view that since media has been a platform for citizens to raise their independent voices, the examination and licence provision will not help that cause.”

Puri said the Bill would be tabled in the Parliament tomorrow.

A version of this article appears in print on January 28, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

England to play limited-overs series in South Africa

CAPE TOWN: England will travel to South Africa for a four-match limited overs tour starting in late November, with all matches to be played without spectators in Cape Town and nearby Paarl, Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed on Wednesday. CSA has received government approval for the tour, which Read More...

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 41.19 million, death toll at 1,130,036

LONDON: More than 41.19 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,130,036​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December Read More...

Bale starts for Spurs in comfortable 3-0 win over LASK

LONDON: Gareth Bale started for Tottenham Hotspur for the first time in seven years and helped them to a 3-0 win over Austria’s LASK in their first match of the Europa League group phase on Thursday. Lucas Moura opened the scoring after 18 minutes and Bale’s square pass was turned Read More...

Free COVID treatment people’s right: Deuba

KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 22 The main opposition Nepali Congress today condemned the government’s decision to charge people for COVID-19 test and treatment. NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba issued a press release demanding repeal of the government’s decision. Deuba urged the government to provide Read More...

‘NHRC report a positive step towards justice’

KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 22 A recent report published by the National Human Rights Commission that features details of human rights violations committed by 286 persons in the last two decades is a step towards ensuring accountability and combating impunity for human rights abuses in Nepal, said Asian N Read More...

Media houses asked to provide salary, facilities to working journalists

KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 22 The Federation of Nepali Journalists has demanded that all the media houses immediately release due payments, including regular remuneration and Dashain allowance to working journalists and employees. Issuing a statement here today, FNJ General Secretary Ramesh Bista made Read More...

Special security strategy for festivals

KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 22 The Metropolitan Police Office, Ranipokhari, has enforced a special security strategy in Kathmandu valley, bearing in mind potential criminal and unlawful activities during the festive season. According to MPO, the new security arrangements were put in place to make secur Read More...

NA to organise symbolic Phulpati Badhai today

KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 22 The Nepali Army is going to organise Phulpati Badhai ceremony tomorrow at Sainik Manch in Tundikhel, Kathmandu. The day marks the seventh day of the 10-day Dashain festival. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the supreme commander-in-chief of Nepali Army, will grace the e Read More...