Jul 23, 2016- The Cabinet on Friday decided to implement “Clean Feed System” on foreign pay TV channels telecast in Nepal. The move is expected to benefit the domestic advertising market, media and related businesses.
“Clean Feed” is a transmission of broadcast content without advertisement. Nepali advertising agencies had long been demanding introduction of such a policy, stating unrestricted transmission of advertisements by foreign TV channels hindered growth of domestic media and advertising industry.
The Ministry of Information and Communication said the policy will be implemented fully within a year. Secretary at the ministry Dinesh Thapaliya said an action plan will be prepared within mid-September by holding talks with all the stakeholders, and three regulations, including the Broadcasting Regulation, will be amended within mid-October to implement the “Clean Feed Policy”.
The foreign channels and domestic cable operators will be given a certain period for removing advertisements from contents to be broadcast in Nepal. “All these tasks will be completed within a year and the policy will come into full implementation from the first day of next fiscal year 2017-18,” said Thapaliya.
The Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN) welcomed the government’s decision. “Implementation of the ‘Clean Feed Policy’ will boost advertisement and other promotional incomes not only for Nepali TV channels, but also for FM radios and newspapers,” said AAN in a statement. “This will also help to create employment and business opportunities for Nepali artists, production houses, and recording, film and shooting studios, among others.”
AAN president Santosh Shrestha said once the “Clean Feed Policy” is implemented, he expects the television advertisement business to double within a year. According to AAN, the domestic television channels currently receive advertisements worth Rs1 billion annually out of total estimated advertisement market of Rs5 billion.
There are, however, doubts over the implementation of the policy given the decision has been taken by the outgoing government. But Shrestha expressed optimism about the execution as “it will benefit the whole nation”.
He said foreign advertisers do not want to invest in Nepal as the message about their products has been reaching Nepali consumers anyway given huge popularity of foreign channels.
“When they cannot reach out to Nepali masses with foreign channels, they will be forced to invest in Nepal. And, they will not only use television channels for advertising, but also other media, helping to boost revenues for all types of Nepali media,” said Shrestha.
AAN has been complaining Nepali advertisements have to be censored before being telecast, but foreign advertisements are run without any censorship, violating Nepal’s law.
KATHMANDU, July 23: The government has introduced 'clean feed' policy for foreign television channels.
The cabinet meeting held on Friday approved the National Mass Communications Policy 2073 BS which has provisions on clean feed. Once the new policy comes into effect, pay foreign channels cannot broadcast advertisements.
The cabinet took the decision based on a report submitted by the Information and Mass Communications High Level Committee. The committee had submitted its report to Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Wednesday, highlighting the need to implement clean feed system.
Nepali advertising industry had long been demanding that the government introduce clean feed policy for foreign television channels. They have been claiming that turnover of Nepali advertising industry will grow by at least Rs 2.5 billion once the clean feed system is implemented.
Minister for Information and Communications Sherdhan Rai informed that the policy was introduced as per the suggestions given by the committee.
“Now that the clean feed policy has been introduced, I am hopeful that our advertising industry will witness significant growth in terms of revenue,” added Rai.
Minister Rai added that the policy, among others, envisages establishing Public Service Broadcasting Nepal, National Mass Communication Authority and Mass Communication Regulatory Mechanism. Similarly, it aims to make the role of Press Council Nepal more effective.
A Cabinet meeting held today approved the National Media Policy, 2016 drafted by the high-level committee on information and communication.
The committee led by Kashi Raj Dahal had submitted its report to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Wednesday. As per the new policy, information and communications system will be developed as a medium to uplift people’s living standards and to institutionalise the federal democratic republic.
The policy has envisaged development of information and communications system for the establishment of equitable and prosperous information society on the basis of inclusive and participatory principle by promoting national interests and national unity.
It has also provided for a provision to recognise media as information and knowledge-based service industry by classifying them as self-employment, small, medium-sized and large investment enterprises.
According to the policy, media shall be required to disclose their self-rule, self-evaluation and editorial policy in writing to promote fair and decent journalism.
“National investment shall be encouraged in media by ensuring legitimacy of the source of investment and financial transparency. In case foreign investment is to be attracted foreign investment for the development of infrastructure and technology, the government shall grant permission for the same by setting conditions that such print and broadcast media shall enjoy editorial freedom and hire only Nepali citizens as their employees. Foreign investment shall not be encouraged in a manner which makes the role of foreign investors decisive,” says the policy.
“The government shall adopt a clean feed (without added graphics and text as advertisement for commercial purpose) policy for foreign television channels that wish to obtain broadcast licence in Nepal. In the case of licenced channels, a certain time-frame shall be given for the clean feed,” read the policy.
Advertising Association of Nepal has welcomed this move of the government.
The policy has also proposed fixing an investment ceiling so as to prevent any individual or group that operates national-level print or electronic media from having majority share in another print or electronic media.
The policy said online news portals shall be classified and treated as equal to other news media.
A version of this article appears in print on July 23, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.
The government has recently approved the National Mass Communication Policy which contains several improvements and innovations for the development of media industry in Nepal. The Council of Ministers that met the other day gave its nod to the draft prepared by a high level committee headed by media and constitution expert Kashi Raj Dahal. The commission has prepared the National Mass Communication Policy-2073 after a long discussion, research, and consultations with different stakeholders and experts. The new communication policy has positive and progressive provisions that seek to bring about positive reforms and innovation in the media sector. The new communication policy has clearly aimed at maintaining transparency in the investment made in media sector, fully securing the rights and interests of working journalists and also restructuring the entire media sector in the country. This is just one but there are many other provisions in the newly adopted National Communication Policy. It has also contained the provision of ‘ clean feed’ policy which makes it mandatory for foreign channels. This is expected to help the Nepalese media especially televisions to get more advertisements and earn more revenue. The National Mass Communication Policy-2073 has also incorporated provisions for making the Press Council more effective, establishment of National Mass Communication Authority and the Mass Communication Regulatory Mechanism, among others. The Commission’s recommendations are definitely positive and progressive, which, if genuinely implemented, will make a difference in the development of the media industry in Nepal.
The media sector is the one that has flourished significantly after the political change in 1990. The constitution has fully guaranteed the press and publication freedom. As a result, Nepalese media has now become very vibrant and has been practically working to genuinely inform the people and protect their right to information. In fact, Nepalese media is in no way inferior to media in any other country despite the limited resources. The government, too, has been supporting for the development of the press in Nepal and fully ensuring freedom of expression. Minister for Information and Communications Sher Dhan Rai, who is also the spokesperson of the government, has said that the government would implement the suggestions and recommendations contained in the National Mass Communication Policy. This is indeed a new development which will definitely bring about both quantitative and qualitative growth and development in the Nepalese media sector. Media is an important pillar in a democracy. Democracy cannot prosper without free press while press freedom is not possible without democracy. Free media and democracy are closely connected. It is with this reason why the present government has accorded highest priority to press freedom. The National Mass Communication Policy-2073 is its example which seeks to fully guarantee press freedom and healthy and professional development of media sector. It is now expected that the provisions of the National Mass Communication Policy 2073 are fully implemented not only for media development but also for the consolidation of democratic policy.
काठमाडौं, माघ २० – सरकारले सञ्चार नीतिको मस्यौदा बनाउन समिति गठन गरेको छ । मन्त्रीपरिषदको बुधबारको वैठकले काशीराज दाहालको संयोजकत्वमा समिति गठन गरेको हो ।
समितिको सदस्यमा प्रेस काउन्सिल नेपालका अध्यक्ष बोर्णबहादुर कार्की र नेपाल पत्रकार महासंघका अध्यक्ष डा. महेन्द्र विष्ट हुनुहुन्छ । अरु सदस्य भने सूचना तथा संचार मन्त्रालयले पछि नियुक्ति गर्ने सूचना तथा सञ्चार मन्त्री शेरधन राईले जानकारी दिनुभयो ।
समितिले अघिल्लो सरकारका पालामा तयार पारिएको नयाँ सञ्चार नीतिको मस्यौदा पुनरावलोकन गरी नयाँ मस्यौदा तयार पार्नेेछ ।
उच्चस्तरीय सञ्चार समितिलाई पूर्णता क्mाठमाडौँ, ३ फागुन । सरकारले नेपालको सङ्घीय संविधानको मर्म र भावनानुरुप विद्यमान सूचना तथा सञ्चार नीति परिमार्जन गर्न गठित उच्चस्तरीय सुझाव समितिलाई पूर्णता दिएको छ । मन्त्रिपरिषद्को गत माघ २० गतेको बैठकको निर्णयबाट आमसञ्चार कानुनका ज्ञाता काशीराज दाहालको अध्यक्षतामा सो समिति गठन भएको थियो । समितिमा बाँकी सदस्य चयनको जिम्मेवारी पाएको सूचना सञ्चार मन्त्रालयले आज समितिमा समावेशिताका आधारमा नेपाल पत्रकार महासङ्घका पूर्वअध्यक्ष धर्मेन्द्र झा, मिडिया सोसाइटीका अध्यक्ष पुष्करलाल श्रेष्ठ, विश्व सामुदायिक रेडियो प्रसारक सङ्घ (अमार्क)का उपाध्यक्ष मीनबहादुर शाही, पत्रकार डा कुन्दन अर्याल, तीर्थ कोइराला, निर्मला शर्मा, डण्ड गुरुङ र रेम विश्वकर्मालाई सदस्यमा मनोनयन गरेको मन्त्रालयका सञ्चारविज्ञ मातृका पौडेलले जानकारी दिनुभयो । मन्त्रालयका सहसचिव रामचन्द्र ढकाल समितिका सदस्य सचिव रहनुहुनेछ । सञ्चारमन्त्री शेरधन राईले समावेशिताका आधारमा ती सदस्य मनोनयनको निर्णय गर्नुभएको हो । समितिमा नेपाल प्रेस काउन्सिलका अध्यक्ष वोर्णबहादुर कार्की र नेपाल पत्रकार महासङ्घका अध्यक्ष डा महेन्द्र विष्टलाई मन्त्रिपरिषद्ले नै सदस्य तोकेको थियो । समितिले काम सुुरु गरेको तीन महिनाभित्र सञ्चार क्षेत्रमा गर्नुपर्ने नीतिगत, संरचनागत र कानुनी सुधार सम्बन्धमा सुझाव सिफारिस पेस गर्नेछ । समितिले संविधानले निर्दिष्ट गरेको सङ्घ, प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहमा सूचना तथा आमसञ्चारसम्बन्धी संरचनागत ढाँचा, नियामक निकाय र अन्तरसम्बन्धको खाका तयार गरी सिफारिस गर्नेछ । साथै सूचना तथा सञ्चारसम्बन्धी विद्यमान ऐन तथा नियमलाई नेपालको संविधान अनुकूल बनाउन ऐन तथा नियमको मस्यौदासमेत तयार गर्नेछ । समितिले सरोकार भएका सङ्घसंस्था व्यक्ति र विज्ञका साथै सरकारी निकायका अधिकारीलाई बैठकमा आमन्त्रण गरेर राय सुझाव लिनेछ । मन्त्री राईले सो समितिले दिएको सुझाव र सिफारिसका आधारमा नेपालको नयाँ सञ्चार नीति तथा ऐन बनाउन सजिलो हुने बताउनुभयो । रासस - http://www.sambadmedia.com/?p=238476#sthash.sWsRWZM5.dpbs
सञ्चार नीति परिमार्जन गर्न गठित समिति पुर्नगठन नगरे आन्दोलनको चेतावनी काठमाडौ, ६ फागुन । विभिन्न सञ्चारकर्मीहरुका प्रतिनिधीमुलक संघ सस्थाहरुले सरकारले हालै संघीय मोडल अनुसारको सञ्चारनीति तर्जुमा गर्न गठन गरेको उच्च स्तरीय सुझाव समिति समावेशी र प्रतिनिधिमुलक नभएको भन्दै तत्काल पुर्नगठन गर्न माग गरेका छन । सञ्चारकर्मीहरुका प्रतिनिधीमुलक नौ सस्थाहरुको आज रिपोर्टर्स क्लब नेपालको केन्द्रीय कार्यालय भृकुटीमण्डपमा बसेको संयूक्त बैठकले तत्काल सरकारले आफ्नो निर्णय नसच्याए आन्दोलनमा उत्रन बाध्य हुने चेतावनी दिएको हो । बैठकपछि जारी संयूक्त विज्ञप्तिमा भनिएको छ,‘ नयाँ संविधानमार्फत् संघीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र संस्थागत गरिएको अहिलेको अवस्थामा संचार क्षेत्रको पुर्नसंरचना र संचारको संघीय मोडेल तयार पार्ने गरी नयाँ संचार नीति तय गरिनु पर्दछ भन्ने हाम्रो धारणा रहेको छ । नयाँ संचार नीतिका लागि हालसम्म भएका अध्ययन तथा प्राप्त सुझावका आधारमा सबै सरोकारवाला पक्षको सहभागितामा मस्यौदा बनाइनु पर्दछ । तर हालै सरकारले गठन गरेको समितिमा अनलाइन, रेडियो, साना लगानीका छापा माध्यमसहितका विधा एवम् मधेशी, महिला पत्रकार संस्थासहित विभिन्न सरोकारवाला संस्थाका प्रतिनिधिहरु नै नराखिएकाले हामी असहमति जाहेर गर्दै तत्काल सच्याई पुर्नगठन गर्न माग गर्दछौ । साथै सरकारले तत्काल यो निर्णयलाई नसच्याए आन्दोलनमा जान बाध्य हुने छौ ।’ बैठकमा नेपाल प्रेस यूनियनको तर्फबाट महासचिव अजयबाबु शिवाकोटी, क्रान्तिकारी पत्रकार संघको तर्फबाट संयोजक गोविन्द आचार्य, लोकतान्त्रिक छापामाध्यम राष्ट्रिय समाजको तर्फबाट अध्यक्ष दामोदरप्रसाद दवाडी,क्रान्तिकारी पत्रकार महासंघका तर्फबाट उपाध्यक्ष दिपक मैनाली, रिपोर्टर्स क्लब नेपालका तर्फबाट अध्यक्ष ऋषि धमला, ब्रोडकास्टिङ एशोसिएसन अफ नेपाल अध्यक्ष गोपाल झा, मधेस पत्रकार महासंघ र मधेसी पत्रकार संघको तर्फबाट सुरेशकुमार यादव र मधेसी पत्रकार समाजका अध्यक्ष मोहन सिंहको उपस्थिति रहेको थियो । NEPALSWISSON
सञ्चारसम्बन्धी नीति बनाउने उच्चस्तरीय समितिले काम थाल्यो २०७२ फागुन ११ गते १३:२२ मा प्रकाशित
११ फागुन, काठमाडौं । सरकारले हालै गठन गरेको सूचना तथा सञ्चारसम्बन्धी उच्चस्तरीय समितिले मंगलबारदेखि आफ्नो काम प्रारम्भ गरेको छ । समितिले नेपालको सञ्चार नीति कस्तो बन्नुपर्छ भन्नेबारे खुल्लारुपमा सुझाव दिन आम नागरिकसँग सार्वजनिक आग्रहसमेत गरेको छ ।
नयाँ संविधान बनेपछि अब नेपालको सञ्चार नीति कस्तो हुनुपर्छ भन्नेबारे अध्ययन गर्न सरकारले हालै सञ्चार तथा कानूनका विज्ञ काशिराज दाहालको संयोजकत्वमा २१ सदस्यीय उच्चस्तरीय समिति गठन गरेको थियो । तीन महिने कार्यकाल रहेको समितिको पहिलो बैठक मंगलबार सिंहदरबारमा बसेको छ ।
को को छन् समितिमा ?
दाहालको अध्यक्षतामा गठित उच्चस्तरीय समितिका सदस्यहरुमा बोर्णबहादुर कार्की, महेन्द्र विष्ट, पुस्करलाल श्रेष्ठ, धर्मेन्द्र झा, निर्मला शर्मा, डण्डबहादुर गुरुङ, तीर्थ कोइराला र मीनबहादुर शाही सदस्य रहेका छन् ।
त्यसैगरी टीकाराम राई, रेमबहादुर विश्वकर्मा, कुन्दन अर्याल, देवप्रकाश त्रिपाठी, राजेन्द्र अर्याल, गोविन्द आचार्य, बद्री सिग्देल, मोहन कुमार सिंह, शुभेच्छा विन्दु तुलाधर, ओम शर्मा र अरुण बराल सदस्य रहेका छन् । सदस्य-सचिवमा सूचना तथा सञ्चार मन्त्रालयका सहसचिव रामचन्द्र ढकाल छन् ।
के गर्छ समितिले ?
समितिलाई तोकिएको कार्यादेशमा नयाँ आम सञ्चार नीतिको मस्यौदा तयार पार्ने र नयाँ संविधानले निर्दिष्ट गरेको संघ, प्रदेश र स्थानीय तहमा सूचना तथा आम सञ्चार सम्बन्धी संरचनात्मक ढाँचाको खाका तयार पार्नेसमेत रहेको छ ।
त्यसैगरी नयाँ संविधान अनुकूल सञ्चारसम्बन्धी ऐन तथा नियमहरुको मस्यौदा गर्ने, श्रमजीवी पत्रकारका समस्या पहिचान गर्ने, आचार संहिताको प्रभावकारी कार्यान्वयनका उपायहरु पत्ता लगाउने, एवं नेपाल सञ्चार क्षेत्रमा देखिएका समस्याहरुको पहिचन गरी समाधानका उपायहरु सिफारिस गर्ने लगायतका जिम्मेवारी समितिलाई सरकारले तोकेको छ ।
लोकतन्त्रको सुदृढीकरणका लागि सञ्चार मिडियासम्न्धी समसयामयिक विषयमा समेत सुझाव दिन कार्यादेश तोकिएको छ ।
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Being a student of media studies, I am always interested in debates on media policy process. I have conducting research on media policy making in Nepal.
The new government has once again shown interested to formulate media policy by establishing a High Level Communications Committee under Kashi Raj Dahal on 4 February 2016. Here are news about the formation of the committee and its reaction. Hope it will be useful to others as well:
Published: February 03, 2016 2:15 pm On: Kathmandu
KATHMANDU: The Cabinet on Wednesday formed a three-member panel to draft the Media Policy.
A meeting of the Council of Ministers formed the committee under the leadership of legal expert Kashiraj Dahal.
President of Federation of Nepali Journalists Mahendra Bista and Chairman of Press Council Nepal Borna Bahadur Karki are members of the panel. The Ministry of Information and Communications, however, can add members to it whenever necessary.
The panel is assigned to draft the Policy in correspondence to the new Constitution.
It is mandated to submit its report to the government within three months.
The meeting also made decisions regarding promotion and transfer of some Nepal Army officials.
It also promoted 21 under-secretaries to the posts of joint-secretary.
Feb 4, 2016- The Cabinet meeting on Wednesday formed a High-Level Communications Committee under the chairmanship of law and communications expert, Kashiraj Dahal, to prepare a draft of new mass communications policy.
Similarly, the meeting also appointed Chairman of the Press Council Nepal, Borna Bahadur Karki, and President of the Federation of the Nepali Journalists, Dr Mahendra Bista, as members of the Committee. The Ministry of Information and Communications would appoint other members of the Committee on the basis of inclusion and necessity. Chairpersons and representatives of the other organisations related to communications would also be in the Committee. The government had formed such type of committee under the chairmanship of Radhe Shyam Adhikari in 2063 BS, after the establishment of republicanism. The term of the Committee is three months. After the meeting, Minister for Information and Communications, Sherdhan Rai, said that a mandate has been given to the Committee to formulate new mass communication policy, review on existing Communications Act as well as to give suggestions regarding solution of different problems surfaced in the sector of working journalists, journalists code of conduct, democracy and communication as per the aspiration and sentiment of the new constitution. The meeting also agreed to allow making formal request with Chinese government for its approval to establish Consulate General of Nepal at Sichuan province in China. The government also promoted different 21 persons to the post of Joint-Secretary. They are Rabi Shanker Sainju, Dandhoj Basnet, Gyanendra Poudel, Sanjay Kumar Khanal, Keshav Prasad Acharya, Purushottam Nepal, Janakiballav Adhikari, Janakraj Dahal, Pradeep Kumar Koirala, Shiva Prasad Adhikari, Sher Bahadur Dhunhana, Bhagirath Pandey, Ram Bahadur Ghimire, Uttam Prasad Dhital, Uttam Prasad Nagila, Dilip Lumar Chapagain, Narahari Baral, Tara Bahadur Karki, Bishnu Prasad Pokharel, Prem Prakash Upreti and Krishna Bahadur Thapa. Similarly, Purushottam Acharya has been promoted to the post of Joint-Secretary towards technical sector and posted at the Ministry of Energy. The meeting also promoted some army personnel to the post of Colonel as well as has transferred some Brigadier Generals. Responding to a query regarding the Prime Minister’s India visit, also the Spokesperson of the Government, Minister Rai said that no decision has been made in this regard and Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel would go for India visit on February 7.
FF's concern on Government's efforts for new media policy
Sunday, 14 February 2016 10:16
The government of Nepal has formed a committee to study the overall media and formulate a new media policy. It is a good initiative as it is formed at a time broader media policy is needed in the country.
The committee is formed under the coordination of Chairman of the Administrative Court, Dr Kashiraj Dahal. However, it is yet to get full shape. Neither the government and the line ministry nor the committee has sought suggestions and held consultations with the civil society working in this sector. In this connection, Freedom Forum, shows keen interest, for it has extensive work experience relating to the study, debate and formation of laws and policies relating to Nepali media.
Freedom Forum had played a very active role to bring the Right to Information Act 2007 and has continued national campaigns for its effective implementation to build the informed citizenry, which is one of the fundamentals of the functioning democracy. Similarly, the Forum has provided expertise to the government on the study to transform State-owned broadcaster (Radio Nepal and Nepal Television) into public service broadcasting.
As a CSO devoted to press freedom and for better media environment across the country since its establishment, Freedom Forum is always ready to share its experiences on study on Nepali media and the necessary policies to make media abreast with time. Also, we are ready to work in this subject with any agency sharing the similar goal.
Media policy recommendation committee gets full shape
News Updated By- Photographer Priya Rijal | Posted From- Washington DC | February 15, 2016 - See more at:
Kathmandu, Feb 15: A high-level recommendation committee formed to revise the prevailing Information and Communications (media) Policy as demanded by the federal constitution has got a full shape. The Committee was formed by the Cabinet meeting on February 3. It is headed by an expert of communications law Kashiraj Dahal. Former President of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Dharmendra Jha, Media Society Chair Puskarlal Shrestha, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Vice Chair Min Bahadur Shahi, journalist Dr Kundan Aryal, journalists Tirtha Koirala, Nirmala Sharma, Danda Gurung and Rem Bishwakarma have been nominated in the Committee, the Ministry of Information and Communications said. Ministry’s Joint Secretary Ramchandra Dhakal is the member-secretary in the Committee. The nomination was made by Minister for Information and Communications Sherdhan Rai. Nepal Press Council Chair Borna Bahadur Karki and FNJ sitting President Dr Mahendra Bista are the members in the Committee appointed by the Council of ministers. The committee is expected to present feedbacks regarding the needed policy level, structural and legal improvements to the government within the next three months of the starting of work. -
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), in a letter to Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli expressed concern over Nepal government’s efforts for the new media policy.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged government of Nepal to ensure press freedom, a broader media policy and transform state-owned media (Radio Nepal & Nepal Television) into public service broadcasting.
He said the Nepalese government formed committee to study overall media and formulate a new media policy. However, it is yet to take full shape. Neither the government nor the Ministry or the committee have sought suggestions and held consultations in this regard with the civil society.
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Aug 28, 2015- The draft National Information and Communication Technology (NICT) Policy 2015, floated for public discussion by Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) on August 4, repeats the flawed visions about the miraculous power of ICTs. We call for the policy to be more evidence-based.
The NICT Policy aims to supersede the related IT Policy 2010, which envisages the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE) as the lead agency. Accordingly, DoIT has floated a draft implementation plan ‘National IT Roadmap.’ The NCIT Policy, prepared by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), proposes to restructure both the ministries as well as the NTA. The contention over jurisdiction is expected to flare up in coming days, but we would like to draw attention to four more critical concerns in this piece.
Seduction of the internet The proposed policy claims that ICT will reduce/remove inequality, poverty and enhance economic growth of a nation and quality of life of its citizens and presents ICT as a “tool available to reduce the development divide”. The relationship between internet connectivity and poverty is, however, poorly understood. The draft puts the delivery of the minimum speed at 512 kbps. Notwithstanding the fact that many governments and organisations consider this as a narrowband, the cost of a 512 kbps-leased line is around Rs 2,500/month, and a 2 mbps broadband will cost Rs 16,000. In the best case, a majority of Nepal’s poor will be stuck with the lower limit and sub-standard quality access. Empirical studies related to the claim are sparse, but they indicate that investments in the internet lead to the growth of the super rich IT-using industries and firms and the knock on effect on country’s growth indicators is visible. The growth rarely trickles down to the poor, disadvantaged and less privileged. Employment records of Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype and Twitter show that these billion dollar internet businesses do not significantly change the job market. The policy has indeed got the direction of the causality wrong. While increased income of a population could have led to the diffusion of the mobile technology, the reverse has not been attested. The past claim that a large-scale diffusion of computers would increase the income has failed. Same was the case for the first generation internet.
The coded numbers argument Some of the crucial numbers in the draft are global averages. Local evidences are lacking for setting them as a five-year target. Further, few numbers are not interpretable. The goal to establish ICT industry and services to account for at least 7.5 percent of the GDP by 2020 is a global industry average and not even the ICT average as per the publicly available World Bank data. So, why 7.5, and why not 15 or three, is a question to ponder. The coded number comes from the expansion of the telecommunication sector in Nepal. The goal to achieve a 90 percent broadband internet penetration is optimism fuelled by the mobile phone subscription number. There are two major flaws here. First, this is a subscription percentage and not the percentage of the population having mobile phones. This number can go well beyond the 100 percent as more than 120 percent is a common sight and some countries have surpassed the 200 mark. So what explanation does a 90 percent offer is not clear although this number has been referred to as an impressive achievement to formulate goals 6.3 and 6.4 and the justification behind the promotion of mobile phones for e-services.
Always turned on In the proposed draft, ICT has encompassed agriculture, industry, health, government and tourism. The policy plugs ICT technologies where it must be always ‘on’. For a nation with chronic loadshedding, the notion is a hard sell. Critically, the policy has failed to consider the scale and pace of national energy infrastructure developments required to power the digital dream. First, the saving of critical energy resources due to the adoption of ICT and its efficient use will be buried by the growth expected from it. The increase in the processing power and the exponential increase in the number of computers over the years have cancelled the gains over the years. The Nepali ‘Green by IT/ICT’ and ‘Green in IT/ICT’ enthusiasts have failed to give due attention to this rebound effect. Second, the optimism of self-improvement faces numerous challenges. The halt in the innovating pace is far nearer than expected (as soon as 2036). Demand for a faster broadband internet and communications have pushed the optical fibre design to the fundamental limits. The semi-conductor industry is already voicing that the halt is near with the Intel CEO recently voiced a similar concern.
The open argument Even in the developed countries, software prices have not reduced although the price of broadband access has come down. This is a huge bottleneck for a home user and even for small- and medium-sized institutions. There is thus a reason for a flourishing software piracy. Recently, it was reported that the municipality of Pesaro in Italy which had trained 500 of its employees to use Open Office switched back to Microsoft Office due to costs in deployment and IT support among others. Clearly, a piecemeal approach to limit the use of the free and open source software to government offices only is not a solution. Related is the issue with the vague term ‘open-standard’ in the draft. Some definitions focus either exclusively on standards and ignore the notion of open access while others rather refer to degrees of ‘openness’. The open-source community generally agree that most explanations of the term rarely allow free adoption, implementation and extension. Our concern chiefly stems from the number of abandonment of the e-government programmes in developing countries. The key contributor to these failures is the gap between the design of the future in these programmes and their poor understanding of the present. From the start, the claim of affecting good governance by technologising the government is contrary to the evidence from developing countries. For instance, corruption has continued as favouritism and bribery despite their move to e-government. The technology-enthusiasts, optimists and experts should be honest in their depiction of the digital society. The faith in the transformative potential of the ICTs is as dated as the early optimism shown towards old technologies such as road, radio and television. While the internet (wires) and the Web (the content and its presentation) are indeed significant human inventions, the ICT with the broadband Internet kept at its core should be seen for what it is: an important tool. It is not a miraculous solution for all the ills in society but yet another technology embedded in the geo-socio-political structures.
Pandey, Maharjan and Raj are researchers affiliated to Martin Chautari
Originally published in The Kathmandu Post (http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2015-08-28/utopian-visions.html)