POKHARA: Mediapersons in Pokhara have expressed their dissatisfaction over the recently registered Media Council Bill, citing threat to press freedom.

Leading mediapersons and members of the civil society shared their concerns at an interaction programme organised by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Kaski Chapter, to discuss the provisions of the media council bill.

On the occasion, journalist Badri Binod Khanal shared his view that it was vital to rectify the points in the bill which go against press freedom. He said it was necessary to form a committee of media experts to discuss the bill, for removal of such points, in order to protect free press.

Likewise, journalist Narayan Karki opined, to introduce a bill that might curtail press freedom would be to create an impediment on the functioning of free press.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology recently registered the media council bill, which proposes a fine of up to Rs 1 million on media houses, editors, publishers and journalists, if they are found guilty of damaging someone’s reputation.

Moreover, the bill stipulates that the council can order erring parties to pay compensation if a content in media outlets is found damaging to the reputation of affected party. The bill also proposes punishment for violating code of conduct which includes suspension of press pass of mediapersons and downgrading of the classification of print media outlets.

President of FNJ, Kaski, Dipendra Shrestha said, introduction of such a bill that was registered without proper discussions would be a threat to democracy.

Similarly, other participants also shared their views at the programme, all having one concern -- protection of press freedom.