Kathmandu, May 22

The main opposition Nepali Congress has said it will not allow the Media Council Bill, which sought to curtail press freedom, to be endorsed from the Parliament.

Speaking in a meeting of the House of Representatives, NC Whip Pushpa Bhusal said the bill was against the freedom of expression and the government should withdraw and amend it.

Stating that journalism was a strong pillar of democracy, Bhusal said the government was trying to accumulate all powers and punish journalists who wrote against the government. “The government has introduced an undemocratic bill just because journalists are writing against corruption,” she said.

Bhusal stressed the proposed Media Council should be an independent and autonomous body. She said the council should be a body that would play the role of coordinator to settle any controversy, and not a mechanism that imposed fine or slapped punishment.

She also said her party would not accept the National Human Rights Commission Bill. Meanwhile, the HoR today approved clause-wide discussion of six bills. The bills are Revenue Leakage Investigation and Control Bill, Nepal Police Adjustment Bill, Industrial Enterprise Development Institute Bill, Industrial Enterprise Bill, Senior Citizens Bill, Advertisement Regulation Bill.

Answering lawmakers’ questions on Advertisement Regulation Bill, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota said the bill was prepared keeping in mind the laws in place in the biggest advertisement markets such as the US and China, and Nepali society and culture.

He said the bill had provisions such as advertisers should take prior permission from authorities concerned for placing hoarding board. In case of semi-nude pictures in advertisements, the advertisers should take permission from local-level bodies.

The bill also bars placing advertisements near schools and advertisements that promote secessionism and terrorism.

The bill also provisions clean feed for foreign TV channels broadcasting in Nepal, which would boost the domestic advertisement market.

Baskota said publishers should publish advertisement free of cost during emergency situation such as during natural calamities.