Kathmandu, July 9
Khimlal Bhattarai, chief whip of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) in the National Assembly, today said NCP lawmakers were serious about the concerns and issues raised by the Federation of Nepali Journalists on the provisions in Nepal Media Council Bill.
Issuing a press statement, Bhattarai said the NCP, which holds majority in the upper house of the Parliament, was committed to addressing the contentious provisions in the bill as per the constitution and parliamentary process. The government had registered the bill at the secretariat of the National Assembly on May 10, but was yet to table it in the house.
“We would like to clarify that the NCP lawmakers are committed to reach an amicable conclusion on the provisions of the bills related to media, registered in the upper house by holding consultation with the FNJ and concerned stakeholders,” the statement read.
It has also appealed to the umbrella organisation of journalists to call off its protest programme.
FNJ has suspended the remaining programmes of its third phase of protest being organised against the bill after the NCP lawmakers in the upper house made a written commitment to address its demands. “As the parliamentary party of the ruling NCP expressed commitment to address issues raised, we have suspended ongoing programmes under the third phase of protest,” a press release issued by the FNJ said.
FNJ and media fraternity have taken a serious objection to the provisions in the bill, which they said were intended to curtail press freedom. The bill stipulates a provision of fine of up to one million rupees on media outlets, editors, publishers and journalists if they are found guilty of damaging someone’s reputation. It also proposes punishment for violating the code of conduct, which include suspending press identity cards of mediapersons, and downgrading the classification of print media outlets.
A version of this article appears in print on July 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.