Media fraternity urges govt to end Kantipur stand-off

  • State urged to allow smooth flow of information
- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Media fraternity urges govt to end Kantipur stand-off

Aug 23, 2014-

In a show of solidarity, over a dozen print, television and radio networks joined forces on Saturday, urging the government to intervene to resolve the standoff that started on Thursday with the CPN-Maoist union blocking the distribution of Kantipur Publication’s two major dailies.

Their message was unanimous, that the CPN-Maoist action is illegitimate and the government, including the Ministry of Information and Communications, should not turn a closed ear to a major event in a media organisation.

There is a serious concern in the media fraternity about the move that what the CPN-Maoist has done could only be the beginning and spread to other media houses.

Five major media organisations, at a joint press meet in Kathmandu said that the obstruction in the publication and distribution of Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post dailies is against the universal principle of press freedom, people’s right to information and uninterrupted flow of information. Representatives of almost all major media houses, television and radio stations were present at the news conference on Saturday.

Nepal Media Society (NMS), Television Broadcasters Nepal (TBN), Broadcasting Association of Nepal, Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and Radio Broadcasters Forum warned of hitting the streets if the government and political parties remained mute spectators, ignoring the seriousness of the matter. They also asked the government to take action against those causing the disruption.

The CPN-Maoist affiliated trade union has been obstructing the distribution of the two dailies for the past three days, putting forth several unfair demands. The union adopted a terror tactic of disrupting their distribution by intimidating the ‘delivery boys’ and creating obstructions at scores of distribution points in Kathmandu and outside, employing union members who are not associated with the Publications.

They also obstructed the printing of Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post at their press in Bharatpur, Chitwan, on Friday night. They locked up the scanning section, barring the printing of the dailies.

TBN Chairman RK Manandhar said that the obstruction in the distribution of papers from a big media house at the time of constitution drafting is an issue of grave concern and should be taken seriously.

“Political parties appreciate free media when they are in opposition. Once they reach the seat of power, they become intolerant of press,” said Manandhar. He stressed the significant contribution of media during major political changes in the past.

NMS Chairman Kailash Sirohiya said any kind of censorship and curtailment of the freedom of press, expression and information are unacceptable and deplorable. He asked the government and political parties to create an environment conducive to smooth flow of information and operation of media houses.

“We always want free and independent dissemination of information. Therefore, the government should shoulder its responsibility in the regard,” said Sirohiya. “If the concerned stakeholders continue to ignore our call, we will be compelled to hit the streets to save the media, the bedrock of democracy,” he added.

He made it clear that the Publications is ever ready to settle problems by peaceful means such as talks with the official trade union. Sirohiya said Kantipur has maintained impartiality, objectivity and professionalism even in difficult times, adding that it is committed to these ideals.

Avenues Television Executive Chairman Bhaskar Raj Rajkarnikar said that in every historic juncture, Nepali press has played a crucial role for safeguarding democracy and people’s fundamental rights. He asked the authorities to end the ongoing disturbance immediately and ensure free flow of information. “We have a clear stance that union politics should be barred from media houses,” Rajkarnikar said.

Reporter’s Club Chairman Rishi Dhamala stated that on no pretext should the distribution of newspapers be obstructed. Issuing a 10-point demand, media organisations have asked the government to resolve some pressing issues facing private media outlets. They demanded recognition of media as a special service industry and necessary protection for its survival.

Stating that the government has been collecting 2 percent royalty fee from FM and Television broadcasters apart from VAT, they asked the government to scrap the fee.

They also sought removal of the requirement of separate permits for broadcasting and installing the earth station. Partial waiver in customs duty while importing equipment for media houses is another demand.

AAN joins forces

KATHMANDU: Expressing solidarity with the media fraternity, the Advertising Association of Nepal asked the political parties and other stakeholders to help end the obstruction in the distribution of the Kantipur newspapers in Kathmandu and Chitwan. The Association said the activities of the CPN-Maoist-affiliated trade union are deplorable as they hinder free flow of information. AAN said that the obstruction in distribution affects the advertising sector.

Baidya Maoists halt Kantipur, Post printing in Chitwan

CHITWAN,

Activists of the CPN-Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Revolutionary Communi-cation, Printing and Publications Workers’ Union halted printing of The Kathmandu Post and Kantipur dailies in Bharatpur on Friday.

They locked up the scanning section of the printing house on Friday night. As a result, the two dailies could not be published on Saturday in the district.

However, the newspapers were distributed from Kathmandu.

Police arrested some of the agitators on Friday night but they were released on Saturday morning. While police have been deployed at the publication office, distributors associated with the union have stopped distributing the newspapers.

A media fraternity, including Chitwan branch of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, has expressed concerns over the obstruction in the publication of the newspapers.

Published: 24-08-2014 09:03

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