KATHMANDU, May 17: Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), the umbrella organization of Nepali journalists, has staged a sit-in protest against the proposed Media Council Bill in the capital on Friday.
During the demonstration held at New Baneswor, media persons demanded immediate changes in the proposed Media Council Bill.
The FNJ has been holding a series of protests against some of the provisions included in the bills formulated by the government to change media laws.
National and international media watchdog organizations including the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have expressed their serious concerns over some of the provisions in the Bill to Amend and Integrate Media Council Act saying that those provisions have wide-ranging implications for the media.
Under the proposed provisions, media outlets and journalists can be fined up to Rs 1 million for publishing any content in violation of the media code of ethics.
Under Section 18 of the Bill to Amend and Integrate Media Council Act, media outlets, publishers, editors and/or journalists can be fined up to Rs 1 million for publishing content found to be tarnishing the dignity or reputation of any individual.
Another media law, Bill on Mass Communications, has proposed Rs 5 million to Rs 10 million in penalties or 10 to 15 years in jail or both for journalists publishing or broadcasting any content undermining national sovereignty, territorial integrity or nationality. The bill has also proposed confiscation of media equipment if the media outlets and journalists are found publishing offensive content.
Worried over proposed legal measures aimed at stifling the media, FNJ had invited legal experts, rights defenders, civil society and editors of daily newspapers for their suggestions on how to defend the constitutionally guaranteed peoples’ right to freedom of expression.
The 2015 constitution states, “Promoting … democratic norms and values including the people’s competitive multiparty democratic system of governance, civil liberties, fundamental rights, human rights, adult franchise, periodic elections, full freedom of the press, and independent, impartial and competent judiciary and concept of the rule of law, and build a prosperous nation.”