By Harsha Man Maharjan
Here media politics has nothing to do with political parties. What I say media politics is the politics of main media organizations in Nepal. My focus is to know which media issues they give emphasis and which they neglect.
I am sharing my experience of going through news cutting we have in Martin Chautari Media Documentation Centre (http://www.martinchautri.org.np/)
We have news cutting on different media issues.
I tried to figure out the volume of articles and news according to subjects: State Media, Working Journalists., Foreign Direct Investment in Media and Media Monopoly.
Cuttings on the welfare of working journalists were the lest among the four. This is the subject on which journalists related organizations conducted seminars in five star hotels. How journalists could voice their grievances in their own media. They even can not publish their grievances and problem in others’ newspapers.
We know that media sector flourished in Nepal after 1990. But the condition of working journalist changed very little. We know only few organizations treated their journalists according to the Working Journalists Act 2051 v.s. Today journalists are voicing to amend this act. They think that this act has a loophole that provides media owners to use journalists in contract. Few weeklies, state owned newsapapers published news, articles on the issue. I think this is the most neglected issue among the four. It is because journalists have no platform in newspapers to write about this issue.
Then came Media monopoly. Here media monopoly means the monopoly of the Kantipur Publication. Even state owns all media. No government should own media.
Monopoly of the Kantipur Publication is not clear if go through its owners. Kantipur FM, Kantipur TV, ekantipur and Kantipur publication are different entities. Yet even lay people know that they born out of the Kantipur Publication. This is a threat to democracy. Past action of Kantipur publication and its sister media organizations showed this in past. It urged government to declare the state of emergency in 2001 to tackle the Maoist Insergency. It backed a fraction of Nepali congress onces. It used all its effort to provoke the audience to take against THT and waged a war to fulfill its vested interest.
Other dailies: Nepal Samacharpatra, Rajdhani, Gorkhaptra etc allied with the Kantipur Publication in the issue of foreign direct investment. They opposed it in the issue of media monopoly. Actually it is this issue that faltered 2001 campaign of Nepal Media Society against The Himalayan Times (THT) on Times’ alleged foreign direct investment. These dailies wrote editorials, made news against Kantipur’s monopoly. They urged government to make laws against media monopoly.
State media came after media monopoly. In this issue even state owned newspapers Gorkhaptra and The Rising Nepal have published news, article. All media organizations urged government to left its control. It is funny that even almost all Ministers of Communication spoke on different occasions that these state media were free to perform their job. But this is yet to happen. The High Level Media Recommendation Commission formed in 2006 under the chairpersonship of Radheshyam Adhkari has requested to privatize Gorkhaptra Corporation and change Radio Nepal and Nepal Television to Public Service Braodcasting. It remained mum on Rastriya Samachar Samiti,(National News Agency) a news agency. People related the GP and RSS criticize the commission. So government formed another Higher Working Team to Study the Restructuring and Autonomy of State Media on December 2006. The team includes Badri Bahadur Karki, Kunda Dixit, Dhurba Hari Adhikari, Nirmala Sharma, Tej Prakash Pundit, Ram Sharan Karki, Madan Kumar Sharma, Jaya Sankar Mahato etc. It has a mandate to make a report o the issue in two months.
The huge chunk of news cutting was on foreign direct investment. This issue hugged newspapers even before The Himalayan Times got published. Only on the rumor of its publishing, big newspapers published editorials, news and article. Except The Himalayan Times, other broadsheets gave the most emphasis on the issue. These newspapers even formed an organization named Nepal Media Society in 2001. These newspapers carried editorials, news and articles on the activities of the Nepal Media Society against the The Himalayan Times. This society even provoked the readers to take against THT. Due to this, copies of THT were burned in different places.
Nepal Media Society (NMS) waged a war on the pretext of THT’s old news that said Buddha was born in India quoting an Indian scholar. But in reality activities of Nepal Media Society came after THT decided to cut its price. A price war between The Kathmandu Post, a English daily of Kantipur Publication and THT when THT came to existence. Profit guided NMS’s activities though they tried to show something else.
Readers must know this. For this government or non government organizations need to give media literacy training to readers. Readers has to know how journalists make news, what advertisement and public relation can do to journalism and other issues of mass media. It is time to begin the campaign of media literacy.