Minister Baskota issues veiled threat against private media

Published On: November 30, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 30: Government spokesperson Gokul Baskota has warned media owners and journalists to think about their investment and their jobs while writing news stories that are unfavorable to the government. He said media should not forget that the government is the main source of news as well as advertising revenue.

Accusing media of spreading 'fake news' against the government, Baskota, who is also minister for information and communication technology, cautioned that the media industry could find itself vulnerable if it didn't stop publishing such kinds of news.

Indicating a news report published in Republica on Monday about government censorship of state-run media when it comes to any news related to protests against the Nirmala rape and murder case, Baskota accused the paper of writing a fictional story. Though Baskota denied issuing any instructions to boycott such news, critics say there has been a news blackout for weeks in state-run media concerning the Nirmala case .

“You may take it as a threat but it is not that, and you have freedom in democracy. But democracy does not mean anarchy. What will happen when people think one day that all that you publish is just illusion ? What about the people working there and the investors'? journalist turned politician Baskota said. “The truth is that the government is the source of news in a democracy and it is also the source of advertising.”

He accused media of trying to build up non-government sources of news rather than relying on the government .

“Media is being developed and is having its impact in society. But if it continues to publish fake news the industry itself will lose credibility one day,” said Baskota. Claiming that he would quit his post if the accusation of censorship was proved, he said media has started working to jeopardize itself. “If media continues to publish fake news , it could pose a threat to the freedom of expression ,” he said.

He also added that the government will not come to the rescue if media implodes by continuing to publish 'fake news'.

Kayfabe Journalism

Minister Baskota accused the media of engaging in 'kayfabe journalism'.

"The term comes from make-believe wrestling. I wonder whether kayfabe journalism is not being cultivated,” he said and suggested that media should be accountable to the readers. “Let's not indulge in kayfabe journalism by cooking up news."

He was of the view that reports about censorship of government media were the height of prejudice.

Asked about public criticism against the government for its involvement in a conference organized by an INGO, government spokesperson Baskota clarified that the government was not a co-organizer of the event. He added that it was the duty of the government to provide security to foreign delegates during their visits to Nepal.

Refuting criticism of the government's extravagant publicity for the prime minister, Baskota said every new product deserves branding and the government was just doing some branding. “But the government has spent less than seven million forthat publicity.”

Baskota also informed that a meeting of the inter-provincial council has been convened for December 9.

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