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Media Entrepreneurs Hostile to Journalists' Rights: Recent Trend in Nepali Media

Nepal observed sharp increase in the number of media following the People's Movement II in 2006. With the radical change in political system and state's media friendly policies, issues in media obviously grew. Despite the spurt in media, it has now gradually seen decline in terms of journalists' rights, freedom of expression and right to information. The media entrepreneurs have become hostile to working journalists they employed which has hindered the professional rights of journalists thereby affecting free and fair journalism.

•    The number of press freedom violation dropped significantly in the recent months. It is because of the slow political and legislative developments following the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in May 27 and recently because of festive seasons.

•    There is gross political intervention in media thereby violating people's right to information. The largest political party in Nepal- Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) has always been hostile to media freedom. Recently, with the split in the party, the media run by the party are disrupted/closed leaving working journalists jobless and violating right to information. The Radio Paschimanchal in Palpa, a district in the western region of Nepal, has been disrupted for 10 days following the disputes among the owners. The Radio run by the UCPN-Maoist has stopped airing because of the split in the party. The splinter Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) and the UCPN-Maoist engaged in dispute over the division of the party properties which also resulted in the disruption of the FM Radio. The Maoist parties have intended to keep the media under control.

•    Similarly, the owner of Triveni FM of Chitwan, a district in the southern plain of the central part in Nepal, suspended two journalists- Anil Dhakal and Subash Pandit- all of a sudden. It is the gross violation of the Working Journalists Act. However, they were restored with mounting pressure from the concerned media bodies. They were sacked because they demanded their salary be hiked as per the provision set by the Minimum Wage Fixation Committee envisioned by the Act. It is a representative case. There are a dozen of televisions where dozens of journalists have not been paid for long. It has directly rendered negative impact on the professional rights/security of journalists. Therefore, the morale in the journalists is declining. In this connection, it worth mentioning: Surya Khadka writes in the Sourya national daily on October 31 like this: "Non-professional owners dominate televisions." "Most of the TV channels have not paid the working journalist for three to six or 12 months." "Once a television is closed, 100 journalists become jobless."

•    The growing hostility between the media entrepreneurs and working journalists is all because the entrepreneurs have disobeyed the Working Journalists Act and the recommendation of Minimum Wage Fixation Committee which have fixed the minimum salary to the journalists. What it indicates is such atmosphere in the media will jeopardize media freedom and professional journalism. Until the journalists are professionally secured, they cannot serve well to people's right to information.

•    Reason behind the strife between working journalists and their employers can sometime be journalists' disobedience to professional ethics too.

•    The UCPN-Maoist and its splinter CPN-Maoist are in need of respecting journalists' right to profession and people's right to information. Keeping media under control by any party is abhorrent in democracy.

•    As the number of journalists becoming victimized in media is growing, it may lead to a blow to the media owners/entrepreneurs and worsen free media. So, the media entrepreneur should be aware of press freedom, and journalist's rights. Similarly, journalists' adherence to media ethics is equally important.

Freedom Forum
Thapathali, Kathmandu



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