Print Edition - 2014-08-08  |  Oped

Them over us

  • By denying permission to the Nepali media at TIA during Modi’s arrival, establishment showed bias
- Shyam K.C.
Them over us

Aug 7, 2014-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Nepal earlier this week and returned home after a 30-hour sojourn in the Himalayan country in the course of which, according to Indian media, he was able to win the hearts and minds of the people. That may or may not be true. The reason for skepticism is the manner in which the Indian television channels kept on repeating that the Nepali Prime Minister broke all protocol and precedent to go to the airport to welcome Modi. As far as most of us know, Nepali Prime Ministers have always welcomed visiting prime ministers or heads of government at the airport when the visit is official. The Nepali head of state welcomed another head of state at the airport when the latter arrived in Kathmandu on a state visit. This probably does not happen in India which may explain why Indian TV channels claimed that the Nepali PM brushed aside protocol in welcoming Modi at the airport. What is true, however, is the step-motherly manner in which the Nepali media was treated by our authorities.

Absent coverage

When the Indian Prime Minister arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport amid unprecedented security, many of us were glued to our television sets, hoping that Nepali television channels would telecast his arrival live from the airport. But all of us were disappointed as our TV channels did not do so. Several Indian TV channels, which are as easily available to cable and dish TV subscribers in Nepal, were showing the event live. If the Indian TV channels were showing the event live, why weren’t Nepali channels doing so? This points to the fact that Nepali TV channels wanted to cover the event live too but were not given access and/or permission to do so. This assumption is further strengthened by the fact that one of the Nepal TV stations tried to cover the arrival live through the use of a mobile phone. The quality was naturally very bad but an attempt was made nonetheless.

These facts go to prove that the Nepali TV stations, especially those broadcasting the news, were keen to broadcast the event live. But official inaptitude combined with insensitivity made it impossible to carry out their basic task of informing the general Nepali public about the event in a manner as such information should have been disseminated. Clearly, the fault for the shortcoming lies not with our TV news editors, managers, reporters and camera persons but with overzealous political leaders and officials who try to please one at the cost of others.

This is not the first time that this kind of fiasco has taken place. Soon after the restoration of democracy in 1990, then Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai made some important policy disclosures to the press. And the press happened to not be that of Nepal but the Press Trust of India. When we in the media protested, he went on to insist that he had done no wrong. Still, we continued to visit him and pointed out to him that issues that matter most to Nepal should be disclosed first to the Nepali media, even if it be through the official Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) news agency. Thankfully, he relented and told me and another colleague of mine that this would not happen in the future. A similar understanding must be shown by the present leadership and especially those political leaders who are in charge of all forms of media in the country.

Change your ways

But despite the step-motherly treatment meted out to the Nepali media at the Tribhuvan International Airport, it is strange that there have been no loud voices of protests from media organisations, including broadcasting and telecasting associations. True, it is not possible to accommodate all media personnel at the airport’s VVIP lounge but there are ways of handling such a situation. For instance, not all TV channels can be accommodated in the Constituent Assembly but live broadcasts of the events can be arranged to the media that wants them through a single source. If one cares to watch Indian news channels, one observes that when these channels want to show House proceedings, they use live clips from a single source. This is the way it should happen when, due to security or space reasons, the number of mediapersons needs to be limited at a particular place. This attitude of going out of one’s way to please other countries in our dealings with them must come to an end. The Nepali media, whether it be print or electronic must never be neglected in our own country and by our own leaders.

Published: 08-08-2014 09:13

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