Nepal | November 30, 2020

Journalists continue protests across country

• MEDIA COUNCIL BILL

Roshan S Nepal
Share Now:

Journalists staging protest against the Media Council Bill near the Federal Parliament in Kathmandu, on Friday, May 17, 2019. Photo: Skanda Gautam/THT

Kathmandu, May 17

Journalists today demonstrated across the country demanding withdrawal of the Media Council Bill, which they said would curtail press freedom.

Led by the Federation of Nepali Journalists and backed by rights activists and civil society, journalists staged a sit-in in front of the Parliament in New Baneshwor and in front of District Administration Offices across all 77 district headquarters.

In Kathmandu, FNJ President Govinda Acharya, FNJ office bearers, journalists and rights activists took part in the protests. The protesters held placards with slogans such as ‘journalism is not a crime’, ‘scrap the Media Council Bill’, ‘ensure
good governance and accountability’, ‘journalists write news, not glorify those in power’, and ‘hail press freedom’. They covered their mouths with black bands to symbolically protest the bill that tries to curtail freedom of expression.

Opposition parties, including the Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, and Nepal Media Society have already expressed solidarity with the journalists’ agitation, stating that passage of the bill in its existing form would lead the country towards authoritarianism.

The FNJ, which has been agitating for the past week, decided to intensify its agitation after the government turned deaf ears to its demand for withdrawal of the bill from the Parliament and its revision in consultation with all stakeholders.

The bill related to the constitution of the Media Council has proposed a fine up to Rs 1 million on media outlets, editors, publishers and journalists if they are found guilty of damaging someone’s reputation.

Section 18 (1) of the new bill stipulates that if any media publish content in contravention of the code of conduct and if an investigation launched after the affected party complains, finds that such news content damaged the reputation of the complainant, then the council can impose a fine between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1 million on media outlets, publishers, editors, journalists and reporters.

Section 18, Sub-section (2) of the bill stipulates that the council can order the erring parties to pay a compensation if the content in the media outlet damages the reputation of the affected party.

Section 17 proposes punishment for violating the code of conduct, which includes suspending press pass of mediapersons and downgrading the classification of print media outlets.

The bill also proposes a committee under a government secretary to make recommendations to the chairperson of Nepal Media Council, which the FNJ says will relegate Nepal Media Council to a branch of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

FNJ President Acharya said even a week after agitation was launched and even though almost all media outlets were raising the issue consistently, statements coming from the government were indifferent towards their demand, prompting them to intensify their protests.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, at a press conference on Wednesday upon arrival from his foreign visit, had said the government had not introduced the bill haphazardly. He said the provisions were put in place envisioning a civilised society where civilised discussions could take place.

“The Parliament will discuss and endorse the bills following due process. So let’s not defame democracy by overtaking the Parliament. This is an elected government. It will discuss the issue in the Parliament, and reach a conclusion,” he had said.

FNJ President Acharya said they would convene a meeting of the central committee tomorrow to decide on further protest programmes as the government’s indifference had continued.


A version of this article appears in print on May 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Mahrez hat-trick as Man City thrash Burnley 5-0 yet again

MANCHESTER: Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick as Manchester City hammered Burnley 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday -- the fourth straight time Pep Guardiola's side have beaten the Clarets at home by that scoreline. City had netted just 10 goals in their open Read More...

Oli counters Dahal with 38-page salvo

Oli raises a host of issues and questions Dahal’s role in relation to them KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 28 Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today presented a 38-page long rebuttal to party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s 19- page proposal saying Dahal’s proposal had led to a serious crisis in the party a Read More...

Record-setting week at Nepse

KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 28 The country’s sole secondary market witnessed a number of records broken in the trading week between November 22 and 26, with the Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) index surging by 6.47 per cent or 115.13 points week-on-week to scale to a new peak. Opening at 1,778.12 p Read More...

Raphinha's late strike gives Leeds victory at Everton

LIVERPOOL: Brazilian winger Raphinha scored his first goal for Leeds United to give his side a 1-0 win in an eventful Premier League game full of disallowed goals and superb saves at Goodison Park on Saturday. With England manager Gareth Southgate watching from the stands, Everton keeper Read More...

MoFAGA

MoFAGA formulates procedure to enhance public accountability

KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 28 The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has formulated procedure related to public accountability promotion for its implementation at the local levels. The procedure aims to enhance the public accountability of local governments by making elected repre Read More...

‘Chandragadi airport to be upgraded as per new DPR’

JHAPA, NOVEMBER 28 Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Kumar Bhattarai today said upgradation of Chandragadi airport would be carried out as per the latest detailed project report. Upon receiving a memo submitted by Save Chandragadi Airport Committee, Minister Bhattarai clarified tha Read More...

Jagadamba steel

Industrial blast injures four

BARA, NOVEMBER 28 At least four labourers were injured in an explosion at a furnace of Jagadamba Steel in Jitpursimara sub-metropolis of Bara today. The four persons, including two Indians, were injured in the incident that took place early this morning. The injured have been identified as Read More...

Cold store being built

DHARAN, NOVEMBER 28 Construction of a cold store in Sunsari’s Barahachhetra Municipality has reached the final stage, signalling an end to the plight of having to take local products elsewhere for storage. Sunsari’s Barahachhetra has developed wards in the plains and prioritised livestock Read More...