Parliamentary panel proposes reducing fine against journalists to as low as Re 1

Published On: December 2, 2019 08:42 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 2: A sub-committee under the Legislative Committee of the upper house has recommended minimizing fines against journalists for breach of media code of ethics in the much talked-about the Media Council Bill. 

The bill registered by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology at  the parliament secretariat in May has proposed Rs 1 million in fines against journalist for breaching the media code of ethics. Trashing the government's proposal, which was heavily criticized by the media fraternity, the sub-committee led by lawmaker Thagendra Prakash Puri has recommended minimum of Re 1 to a maximum of Rs 10,000 in fines against journalists for code of ethics violation. 

The report prepared after consultation with the stakeholders and amendments registered by various lawmakers on the bill has also suggested forming a committee headed by National Assembly chairperson to recommend the head and members of the proposed media regulatory body. 

Journalists and the media fraternity have been opposing the proposed provision of appointment at the Media Council by the government in the original bill. Similarly the parliamentary panel has proposed that a senior advocate or senior journalist with minimum 20 years of experience and having a bachelor's degree in the relevant field as chairperson of the proposed Media Council. Similarly, a member from the upper and lower house each having experience in the field of journalism and representing separate political parties, president of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), journalists representing different provinces and media platforms including online, print, television and radio as well as media consumer representatives have been recommended as members of the council.

Amid protests from journalists, the parliamentary panel has proposed conducting examinations for journalists citing that it is necessary for maintaining quality. 

The parliamentary panel has proposed that parliament can issue necessary direction to the council if needed. 

Earlier the bill registered by the government had stated that the government shall issue direction to the council when necessary. 

The National Assembly sub-committee has also suggested that the media council submit its report to the Chief Justice instead of the government. The parliamentary panel has also suggested differentiating the mass media and social media in the bill. 

Submitting the report at the committee meeting on Sunday, sub-committee coordinator Puri said that the report could help effective deliberation on the bill and help a wise decision-making. 

After receiving the report, Committee Chairperson Parshu Meghi Gurung said that the committee will incorporate the important recommendations from the sub-committee.

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