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.