KATHMANDU: Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Parbat Gurung, has said that discussion was underway with Ministry of Health and Population to immunize Covishield vaccine to members of Federation of Nepali Journalists free of cost.
At an interaction on ‘Mass Media and Working Journalists: Policy, Programme and Budget’ organised by the Ministry here today, Minister Gurung announced that a relief package would also be brought for COVID-affected working journalists. Expressing commitment to implement minimum wages of working journalists, he shared that discussion would be held with owners of media houses for the same. The government has determined minimum wages of Rs 24,375 for working journalists of national media and Rs 17,625 for working journalists of other media houses.
Minister Gurung reaffirmed his commitment to make the acts and laws relating to the mass media more media-friendly after holding consultations with the experts. Gurung, also the Spokesperson of the government, shared that the government would allocate budget for the Mass Media Academy in the upcoming fiscal year. He asserted that the FNJ should consider reviewing the provisions regarding the distribution of the journalist identity card. The Minister pledged to address the issues surrounding the press pass and online registration that is handled by the Department of Information at the earliest. Moreover, he said that the government was considering bringing new programmes for the journalists to secure their welfare.
The Communications Minister explained that the government, based on the recommendations of the experts, will formulate long-term plans for the life insurance, health insurance and accident insurance for the journalists.
On a different note, Minister Gurung urged the media to become creative and positive instead of a protest and negative criticism. “Media-persons are not only a means to give birth to conflict, but it is also a facilitator to reduce it.” On the occasion, the ministry secretary Hari Prasad Basyal pledged to hold a discussion on relief the ministry could provide to the media affected by Covid-19 pandemic. Chairperson of Gorkhapatra Corporation Krishna Murari Bhandari stressed the need for the media to be efficient and self-reliant instead of relying on the government for survival. Chairperson of Nepal Television and former Chairperson of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Dr Mahendra Bista suggested review of media in terms of its content and responsibility.
Similarly, General Manager of Rastriya Samachar Samiti Opendra Sharma drew the attention of media to the use of RSS’s contents illegally. Other speakers–former FNJ PChairpersons– Dr Suresh Acharya and Shiva Gaule and former General Secretary Ujir Magar and General Secretary of Nepal Press Union Ajaya Babu Siwakoti urged an amendment to the Public Service Broadcasting Bill after holding consultation with stakeholders. FNJ vice chairpersons Bipul Pokharel and Dilip Thapamagar demanded an insurance scheme to journalists based on FNJ membership. Coordinator of the Press Organisation Nepal Ganesh Basnet underscored the need for the government to support media with small investment.
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