22 March 2007

One-sided News of Kantipur Publication

By Harsha Man Mahrajan

Once my friend told me that business community is mainly responsible for the present mismanagement in Nepal. And media are silent on this issue. Yes it is this community which supported royal regime, and all political parties depend on them as economic source. Their money is never made transparent. So my friend liked Manoj Bhandarkar’s film Page Three for showing the negative impact of advertisers in media.
On 19 March 2007 The Kathmandu Post daily published an news about hotelier Hari Shrestha being abducted and beaten by the Maoists for supporting king. On the same day Nepali day Kantipur wrote that the Maoists did this for he denied to provide donation of 20,00,000.00 Nepali rupee. The news also informed the Maoist forced him to do written commitment to provide Rs 1,00,000,00.00 and provide 10 rooms for CPN(Maoist) free of cost and not to inform about this to police. The news was placed on the first page with a photo of Shrestha with his bruised face. Both news were one-sided. Neither of them had voices of the Maoists. Today it is easy to know their voice.
Owing to this and other incidents of Maoist action, the business community declared the band for indefinite period from 19 March 2007. What a job of the Kantipur Publication, its Nepali broadsheet daily published an appeal on 20 March 2007 of business community to do bandh and participate in the rally taking place in Basantapur on the same day. Definitely this is advertisement. Is it not against the ethics of journalism?
On Samaya Sandarbha, a talk program aired by Nepal FM on 20 March, Badri Bajgai of trade union affiliated to the Maoists told that the action against Shrestha was due to wrong activities of Shrestha. Bajgai accused Shrestha of exploiting his workers, rape and murder.
I was curious to knbow about this so I called my friend at Gefont. According to him, Gefont also fought with him from Panchayat period and every time he remained scotch free due to Royal protection.
Why did Kantipur hide this issue? Isn’t its duty to inform readers about this? No doubt, the Maoists’ action is wrong. No one should take laws in her/his hand. They must abide with rule of law. They must learn about this.

16 March 2007

Need of Broadcasting Authority in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan

A saying goes better late than never but better never late. We are making late in establishing a broadcasting authority. Now we are in chaos.

At last Information and Communication Ministry has decided to stop registering applications of new FM radio stations in Kathmandu. Nepal Samacharpatra informed this on 11 March 2007. This is good news.

We still lack an authentic institution to evaluate the applications. After April revolution of 2006, the ministry opened the process of providing license. And now it has provided licenses to 177 radio stations. Can you believe 37 of them are in Kathmandu? Can they survive? It seems that ministry has to do nothing with their survival. In lack of this authority Kantipur publication has got license to air 5 more FM radios in Birgunj, Nepalgunj, Bharatpur, Pokhara and Butwal.

In Nepal National Communication Policy 2049 v.s opened broadcasting sector to private sector. It did not propose the authority to manage and evaluate applications for FM radio stations. Even National Broadcasting Act 2049 v.s did not mention about this kind of authority.

Long -term Policy of Information and Communication Sector 2059 (2003) has urged government to established this authority. The Royal government after Feb 1 2005 coup tried to introduce a Broadcasting Authority Ordinance in early January 2006. Its main purpose was to stop FM radios from airing news, increasing license fee. It also had a provision of stopping three media: radio, tv, and print to an media organization. Due to the concerted effort of democratic forces the government needed to step back.

Even High Level Media Recommendation Commission 2006 recommended government to establish National Broadcasting Authority. Its duty, responsibility and rights are as follows:

• Issue operating license to broadcasting organization.
• Classify broadcast mediums and organizations.
• Evaluate the standard of materials used for broadcasting.
• Formulate frequency spectrum plan; implement the plan and monitor the implementation.
• Monitor the activities of broadcast companies.
• Formulate broadcast policy.
• Conduct other necessary works required for development and improvement of broadcast companies.
• The authority should hold the right to collect fees for its operation.


06 March 2007

Media Literacy Initiatives in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Is there the campaign of Media Literacy in Nepal? Do you heard about this in Nepal? Media literacy tells citizens about the socio-political and economic aspects of media products. It makes citizens aware of media construction of reality and makes them aware of both good and bad aspects of mass media.

Nepali government never paid interest in this kind of campaign. Academic education of Journalism and Mass Media began in 2033 v.s. In the late years of 1980s king Mahendra was experimenting with his so-called one party democracy. No need to doubt that that time the government kept citizens from real facts by bombarding them by government propaganda. Mainstream media were in the control of the government. There was no chance of beginning media literacy in Nepal at that time. Non Government organizations were not powerful at that time. Government sector has not started this campaign even today.

There is only an example from Ngo side. Asmita publication organized media literacy training in 2005 among about 800 women of Morang and Rupendehi districts. It even published a booklet, Upayogi Media: Sakriya Upobhokta(Useful Media: Active Consumer). Asmita named it series no. 1. But 2 never came. The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) funded this project.

Manju Thapa of Asmita thinks Media Literacy is the field that we have to emphasize in Nepal now. But no NGO seems in the front. Asmita even lack funding on this issue. Media experts Vinaya Kasajoo and P. Kharel see the need of the campaign of Media Literacy in Nepal.

In Nepal’s context Media Literacy is important. People have blind faith in Mainstream media these days. This media gave full support to April revolution of 2006. No doubt the King gave these media no other option then to fight back against king’s tyranny. But these media are for profit. They never dare to fight against the interest of media owners and advertisers.

It is right time to inform Nepali citizen about the real nature of media. Media products are always constructs. These products use heads of people with different interests. Even limitations of their technology, economy make these products biased. They prioritize certain belief, ideology etc. Citizens must know how mass media construct reality, what influences media owners and advertisers have in media, why these products are made, the nature of Media: whether they are mainstream or alternative, commercial, community etc. These sorts of media information help citizen to evaluate media products.

The issue of ownership is important. Even government has media in its control. The state media always favor government and criticize its opponents. Citizen must know the limitations of the state media. Private media too have limitations. Now a problem of ownership concentration is evolving. Kantipur Publication owns radio, tv, online. This is also related to cross media ownership. With out studying the need assessment and consequences, recently government has given license to Kantipur to start five FM radio station of 1 kw each in Birgunj, Nepalgunj, Bharatpur, Pokhara and Butawal. Accumulating this much power in a media organizations is bad for democracy. As Ben Bagdikian says in his book, The New Media Monopoly, media power is political power.

One can question: Kantipur Publication, Kantipur FM, Kantipur Television Network, kantipur Online are separate media organizations. They might appear so. But in reality they are under one organization. Please visit its website Kantipuronline. They are kept under one organization. http://www.kantipuronline.com/aboutus.php
Nepali citizens must know this fact. Media literacy informs them about the chances of assaults from mass media. Actually this makes Nepali citizen active and helps in democratization of Nepali polity.

Lack of Government organizations and NGOs’ interest in Media literacy movement shows that they want to leave Nepali people vulnerable to assaults of media. These organizations knowingly and unknowingly are conniving with these media. They don’t want to empower Nepali citizens.

In global level media literacy began in 1960s. In some countries it begins from kindergarten to 12 class. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_literacy

Now we have no other way. Government Organizations and Ngos must begin the campaign of Media Literacy as training or media education.

04 March 2007

Last Chance: Restructuring of State Media in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan

On 2 March 2007 Ministry of Information and Communication arranged a meeting with media experts on the future structure of state media in Nepal. www.gorkhapatra.org.np/content.php?nid=13742

Government has formed a High-level Taskforce on Restructuring and Autonomy of Government Media on December 2006. The team includes Badri Bahadur Karki (Coordinator), 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. There is no doubt that government is going to extend its time. It is also calling politicians about the issue. Actually these people are important. Only their will works. Acts of Gorkhapatra Prakashan, Rastriya Samachar Samiti have compelled government to make their share available to their workers and general people. As I wrote in my previous posting governments have never shown their courage to do so. Even media policies of Nepal have urged government to make these organizations autonomous.

I hope this time these state media will be autonomous in real sense. Actually this is the first working team that was formed especially to provide legal suggestions to give autonomy to these organizations and restructure them.

Now these politicians have no option other than doing what this team suggests.