KATHMANDU, May 12: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global media watchdog, and the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) have objected to proposed changes in the media law and asked the government to revise the bill it has registered in parliament.
The IFJ, in a statement issued on Friday, said that the harsh provisions proposed in the Media Council Act will have wide-reaching implications for press freedom in Nepal. “Media cannot operate in an environment of fear and intimidation, which is what would be created by many of these proposed changes. We call on the Nepali government to conduct consultations with media stakeholders and revise the provisions immediately,” said IFJ.
The Bill to Amend and Integrate the Media Council Act, registered by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology at the House of Representative secretariat on Thursday, proposes a structure for keeping the media council under the government’s purview.
Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of central committee members of the FNJ on Saturday chaired by FNJ President Govinda Acharya condemned the bill and announced it is to launch protests against proposed provisions aimed at suppressing independent media.
Issuing a press statement, the central committee of the federation said, “The provisions of the proposed bill will bring the Media Council under the control of the government and curtail press freedom.” The federation has also demanded that the government immediately withdraw the bill, hold a meeting of all stakeholders and revise the bill.
The FNJ has announced five-day protests and discussions programs in this connection starting Sunday.