Candidate’s daily routine broadcast as ‘news’

Kathmandu, March 25:

It was 3 pm. Radio Mithila, one of the popular FM stations in the Maithili heartland, went on air with its afternoon news bulletin. What followed was simply shocking. It neither deserved to be called news nor an election advertisement. The FM Radio aired about the likings of Smriti Narayan Chaudhary, the NC candidate for CA polls from Dhanusha-1.

What time Chaudhary wakes up, what he drinks, what he takes in breakfast, who he meets, what newspapers he reads and what he does throughout the day and what time he goes to the bed were the details of the afternoon ‘news’ bulletin of the FM station.

“It is true that we have not been able to monitor all the FMs, though there is a need for it,” said Narayan Prasad Regmi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Communication.

He admitted to receiving occasional complaints against FM stations for airing one-sided news and matters detrimental to communal harmony. The interim constitution has a provision against cancellation of registration of FM stations. “But it does not mean that they are entitled to do whatever they like,” Regmi said.

Meanwhile, the Nepal Press Council has started to monitor all kinds of media across the country in the run-up-to the CA polls. The council sends its findings to the Election Commission for prosecution against those violating the election code of conduct.

“Most of the FMs are balanced in terms of airing election news but some of them are one-sided

and are working as a mouthpiece of certain interest groups,” said Rajendra Dahal, chairman of the council.

“Some of the coverage of FM radios are objectionable with regard to communal harmony, but the good thing is that there is a remarkable improvement ever since we started monitoring the media,” said Dahal adding that the government cannot do away with the responsibility of monitoring the media and maintaining harmony in society.

He said regular monitoring of media including the FMs could lessen violation of information and communication directives that prohibit the broadcasters from monopolising the coverage.