Deuba renews demand for relief package to journos and media houses

Kathmandu, May 26

Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has once again called on the government to announce relief package for journalists and media houses.

Issuing a statement on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of Nepal Press Union today, Deuba expressed concern about scores of journalists being rendered jobless in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown which has badly hit the media sector.

“Media houses are suffering from acute financial crisis due to closure of businesses for more than two months, which has adversely affected their revenue source. Several dailies and weeklies have been shut down across the country with no source to keep them running. Therefore, I again demand that the government announce stimulus package to help the media industry return to normalcy,” said the leader of the main opposition party.

Private media outlets derive a significant percentage of their revenue from advertisements.

Deuba, who is also a former prime minister, said journalists were making tireless efforts to ensure people’s right to information regardless of various challenges during the outbreak of novel coronavirus. He urged the government to arrange safety gear for journalists, who are working on the frontline.

“It is not an easy job to continue with journalism at a time of high risk of coronavirus infection. However, the government does not seem concerned about ensuring the physical and professional security of journalists.

Mediapersons have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in various parts of the country, including in Birgunj and Udayapur. In this context, I strongly demand that the government make provision of COVID-19 test for all journalists free of cost and ensure their safety,” Deuba said in the statement.

He also praised media houses and journalists for fearlessly exposing the involvement of government officials in corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 testing kits and other medical equipment. “Instead of extending thanks to journalists for exposing corruption and initiating action against corrupt officials, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has accused media houses of fomenting anarchy in the country.

I request the PM not to make such anti-press remarks,” he said. Deuba encouraged journalists and media houses to keep up their work without fear. “I am with you,” he said.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 27, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.