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Rescind orders against free press: Nepal Media Society

  • ‘We have seen how such moves in the past by those drunk on power have boomeranged on them’
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 5, 2019-

 

Nepal Media Society, an umbrella body of publishers and broadcasters, has taken serious exception to KP Sharma Oli government’s series of actions that are aimed at squeezing the media.

Issuing a statement on Thursday, the society urged Prime Minister Oli to immediately rescind the government orders and directives that are against the free press so as to save the country from anarchy and confrontation. 

The society has also called on all the media stakeholders and democratic political parties to be alert about the dark clouds hovering over the press, which is a key pillar of democracy.

Stating that a series of government steps in recent months, aimed at controlling the media, have let the news publishers down, the society urged the prime minister and the Cabinet to desist from imposing any kind of obstructions in exercising the right of press freedom enshrined in the Constitution of Nepal.

Last month, the Department of Information and Broadcasting under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology issued a circular asking media houses to furnish a copy of the payroll and bank details—including the account number—of each journalist to the department. The circular, as per the department, is part of its move to ensure that journalists’ minimum wage was implemented by the media houses.

“In its budget, the government could not hike the salary of civil servants even by one percent. But when the fiscal year commenced, it introduced some provisions through the Labour Act,” the statement reads. “Three months later it issued a decree to media houses to increase salary by 25 percent, going against its own Labour Act. Isn’t it immoral and ridiculous on the part of the government to issue such a diktat to media houses at a time when it has failed to pay heed to the provisions of the Labour Act and raise salary of its own workers?”

In response to a writ, the Supreme Court on February 4 stayed the government decision to hike the salary in media houses. “We welcome the Supreme Court decision,” the statement reads.

“Let us remind you none of the government’s anti-press activities will shut down our media. The entire world and Nepali people will stand in support of the Nepali media. There are innumerable examples in front of us how moves against the media by those drunk on power have backfired,” reads the statement issued by Subha Shankar Kandel, chairman of Nepal Media Society. “In a democracy, the people are above the government. And the media is the voice for these people. It will be imperative for all those in power to recall what the prime minister has repeatedly said—that the government or any other official are but for a temporary period of time.”

Published: 05-04-2019 08:27

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