KATHMANDU, June 12: The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has unveiled third-phase of protest on Tuesday demanding withdrawal of the controversial Media Council Bill from parliament.
Accusing the government of not listening to the concerns of journalists, FNJ announced the protest that includes whistle march, lantern march, cartoon exhibition and signature collection campaign against the bill. FNJ General Secretary Ramesh Bista said that signatures of people from all walks of life from across the country will be collected against the bill and they will be submitted to the prime minister through the district administration offices.
Journalists and stakeholders have been agitating demanding withdrawal of the bill, which was registered at the National Assembly last month.
A central committee meeting of the FNJ had on Monday finalized the protest schedule, which will be the third phase of the protest. “It is clear that the Media Council Bill is aimed at controlling the media instead of regulating it,” Bista said. “FNJ has decided to continue its stringent protest until the bill is withdrawn from parliament.”
Journalists and stakeholders have expressed serious concerns over a provision in the bill to fine journalists found violating ‘media code of ethics’ up to Rs 1 million and another provision that talks about forming a state-controlled media watchdog body by scrapping the existing one.
The signature campaign is slated for June 18, while the collected signatures will be handed over to the DAOs on June 21. According to the umbrella organization of the Nepali journalists, a cartoon exhibition will be organized on June 25 to protest the bill.
Similarly, journalists will be asked to send phone text messages to the provincial and federal parliamentarians on June 30 to draw their attention. Likewise, a press freedom meeting is slated for July 5, lantern march for July 9 and whistle march for July 15, according to the FNJ.