King Gyanendra ended the media censorship immediately after his foreign tour to show the world that he is moving towards the direction of restoring press freedom. But it was only a trick – and here comes the unmistakable proof of that. The government has drafted an ordinance that would amend some Nepal laws related to press and anybody can tell that the ordinance is for nothing but to keep the media silent and afraid.
The ordinance has introduced strict measures against media ownership and broadcasting of news related programs.
The ordinance asks any individual or organization owning all newspaper, radio and television to choose any two within a year. It says no single organization will now after granted license to operate more than two media. In other time this could have looked good but at the present situation it only looks like a measure to weaken Kantipur – the largest publication and broadcasting house in the country and the most vibrant one in demanding democracy.
And I think the ordinance would not likely to effect the government that owns all three types of media too because there is nothing about it in the ordinance.
Those 1,000 journalists who previously worked for FM radio stations and who lost their jobs after the King’s regime barred these radio from broadcasting news are more in trouble now as the ordinance not only bans FM radio from broadcasting news but also anything that is ‘informative’.
And, the ordinance puts media on the situation where it can’t criticize government or anybody in the government. If the media do so, they have to pay a hefty fine.
Other laws that is amended by the ordinance mainly deals with what to publish and what to not. There are hefty fines and harsh punishment introduced against those who violate the rules.
With all the amendments it would be now easier for the King to extend control on media though indirectly and the media industry which were hit hard by the King after the takeover are now ‘to be punched right on nose’.
Special note on this entry:Radio Free Nepal was a blog that ran during ex-King Gyanendra’s direct rule of Nepal defying the tight censorship and was instrumental in getting out information out of Nepal. The blog was at freenepal.blogspot.com which has now been closed.
The banner reads: King Gyandendra of Nepal has issued a ban on independent news broadcasts and has threatened to punish newspapers for reports that run counter to the official monarchist line. Given that any person in Nepal publishing reports critical of “the spirit of the royal proclamation” is subject to punishment and/or imprisonment, contributors to this blog will publish their reports from Nepal anonymously.