Personal tools
You are here: Home News Analysis and Views Media Council Bill
Log in

Forgot your password?

Media Council Bill

Issue May 2019

Media Council Bill

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Probably, the recent media council bill presented to the House demonstrated the prime minister’s regressive attitude toward the media. The senior reporters and reporters in general have been saying that the new media council bill, which is for replacing the Press Council Act is undermining the constitution of Nepal that has guaranteed the press freedom in its preamble.


The media council bill has made a provision for the fine of one million rupees for the contempt for the honor of persons, and the provision for firing the council chief for incompetence, which is defined as the discretionary power given to the communication minister. That is one of the major issues the reporters have been raising against the media council bill. This provision has been made to muzzle the reporters, and to keep the critics of the prime minister, ministers and political leaders and so on from writing and talking anything publicly.


Another provision made in the media council bill is a nine-member council. The government will appoint six of them. Thus, this council surely becomes the part of the State mechanism. The media would need to work as the people in power wanted.


The question is why the current government is not feeling comfortable with the prevailing Press Council Act that has made the media independent and enable the reporters and the newspapers, TVs, and the radios to write and broadcast independently without fear and prejudice against anything or anybody.


The communists have been defending this media council bill. Certainly, they would do because they wanted the dictatorship. They did not believe in democracy. So, they did not need an independent media because such an independent media would surely expose whatever bad things the communist State would do deliberately or unknowingly.


So, the first thing, the current communist government did was to hit the press: the fourth pillar of democracy. Hitting and tearing down this pillar that strongly supports democracy and the people’s rights and human rights have been one of the first major tasks of the communication minister to please the prime minister, who really did not want to see any opposition, and who minimized the opposition even in the House calling the opposition nothing but a weak and useless.


Surely, the opposition is not only not necessary for the communist government but also the communist government does not want it because the opposition would be always opposing what the government is doing and not doing. So, the opposition has been the heavy burden on the Oli government with the great mandate of the voters.


So, Prime Minister Oli ordered his law minister to craft a new human rights bill so that human rights fans could not make any fuss on top of the media council bill. Then, the Oli government could run the State administration without fear and concern of human rights, and of course without fear of the reporters writing against him. Then, nothing would prevent Mr. Oli and his men from making folks disappear from anywhere or jail without fear of getting any troubles in the court and in the press not to mention from the common folks and the family members of the victims.


The human rights bill is also in the pipeline. National Human Rights Commission has already protested against this new bill. So, the Oli government is toward making Nepal really a communist state.


However, Mr. Oli had not thought about the elections he would need to face after three-and-a-half years to come. Then, voters would decide who would run the State administration. Then, the question is whether Mr. Oli would return to power or not. Most of the folks said that it was doubtful; so, then surely Mr. Oli had been so obsessed with grabbing every power of the media, National Human Rights Commission, and so on probably to be a real dictator. Mr. Oli surely was heading to be an absolute ruler. Probably, Oli must have thought that it would make him able to realize his dream of making Nepal a prosperous country and the Nepalis the happiest in the world.


The aim of the media council bill has been surely to undermine media: one of the four pillars of democracy, and then the democracy itself. It has violated the constitution of Nepal that has clearly stated that the media would be completely free. So, anybody crafting this media council bill has abused the constitution, and those lawmakers voting for it, would be subject to the punishment for the violation of the constitution.


The current so-called proletarian rule did not tolerate the media. The rulers take the media as the enemy, and always try to kill the free press and freedom of free speech and the human rights. The communists keep the common folks in a situation of terror forever. So, the communists had to go from Russia, and Eastern Europe forever.


Probably, the communists in Nepal must have been burning like an oil lamp that would be going to go off after consuming the oil completely and giving a last flash before dying. So, probably, Mr. Oli might be the last communist Prime Minister Nepalese voters would keep in power.


Across the country, the reporters and National Human Rights Commission have been protesting against the media council bill. The media people have been ready to launch the movement against the government.


The following are a few media reports on how the reporters and National Human Rights Commission have started off the protest against the media council bill that goes against the constitution.


The news published in HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE on May 16, 2019 stated that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today said its attention was drawn to the Media Council Bill registered by the government at the federal Parliament on May 10 and NHRC held a discussion with representatives of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) today.


The news further stated as follow.


Provisions made in the bill for giving the absolute power to the media council for investigating any alleged violation of code of conduct, impose fine or penalty on the journalists or a media house, and set any compensation for the damage of reputation were against the universal judicial norms and values, they said.


FNJ said that only a judicial or a quasi-judicial body had the power to use the provision made in the proposed media council bill for imposing penalty or fine; so, the provision made was illegal and was surely motivated by the government’s intention to curtail the press freedom.


The NHRC said press freedom, human rights and the rule of law were the integral parts of democracy.


“Press freedom has been guaranteed by the constitution. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2A of the constitution have stipulated provisions on right to freedom of opinion and expression to every citizen,” the rights body said in a press release.


According to Article 19 of the UDHR, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to articulate one’s opinions without any interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.


“Free, responsible and dignified journalism contributes to accountability and protection and promotion of human rights. Effective protection and promotion of human rights strengthens democracy. Regulation is not an inappropriate measure in itself. But curtailing press freedom in the name of regulation can never be in conformance with the norms and values of human rights,” the NHRC warned.


“Culture of human rights can be strengthened by maintaining the dignity of democracy and that is possible only if the proposed media council is capable of monitoring and regulating press freedom independently,” according to NHRC. The NHRC is convinced that the attempt to impose restriction on the autonomy of the existing Press Council Act through alteration of its provisions will be in contravention of basic norms and values of human rights and rights to expression,” the release states.


The NHRC also urged the government and all stakeholders to modify the bill after holding consultation and discussion on its controversial provisions in a way that didn’t curtail the press freedom and citizens’ right to freedom of expression.


Another piece of news has it in HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICES on May 16, 2019 is that Nepali Congress central leader and former Finance Minister Ramsharan Mahat said that the government would be forced to withdraw the Media Council Bill submitted in the Parliament.


Speaking at a press meet the Nepal Press Union held in Dhankuta, Mahat said that the government should withdraw the Media Council Bill crafted without consulting the media sector. He accused the government of trying to gag the free press. He said that the government’s move to suppress the press had put democracy in peril of weakening.


“The assault on free press which is regarded as the pillar of democracy is not acceptable to the Nepali Congress. NC has thrown its weight behind agitating journalists,” he stated. Mahat charged the government that it was making interventionist laws and becoming tyrannical. Saying the government was headed toward authoritarianism, Mahat warned that his party would not remain a mute spectator.



The news on stated on May 12, 2019 that Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba called the media bill a coup to restrict the journalists’ and press freedom. President Deuba said at the press conference held at his party’s office in Sanepa on Sunday, May 12, 2019 that the media bill breaching the freedom of expression, and taking away the rights of journalists was unacceptable to his party. Deuba said that NC had been fighting for the freedom of press since the Rana regime and then through the Panchayat regime, and he warned that his party would again fight for the freedom of expression.


May 17, 2019

Document Actions