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Mass Communications Media Act prioritizes self-regulation in media: Minister Baskota

KATHMANDU: Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Gokul Prasad Baskota has said that emphasis would be given to self-regulation than to control in the bill on mass communications.
Making it clear that there would not be any restriction, censorship or hassles from the government side on the provision of complete press freedom as enshrined in the constitution, the Communications Minister said the new law is being introduced internalizing the principle that democracy and the Press should be taken ahead together.
According to the Minister, the new law recognized the online medium also as the mainstream medium, a ‘pay commission’ will be formed at least six months before the review instead of the existing committee for determining the minimum salary of journalists and additional concessions would be provided in the case of self-employment oriented media.
Similarly, he said that provision would be made for opening a mass communications training academy in consonance with the university courses.
The government has been preparing to register the bill related to this in the current session of parliament.
The Bill Related to Media Council which the government tabled in the National Assembly is currently under discussion.
Minister Baskota reiterated that the amendments to the bill that have been presented to establish the Press Council as an autonomous body for facilitation before court action would be taken positively and the government would be ready for logical discussions with regard to the new laws in the making.
Communications and Information Technology Minister shared this while taking a memorandum submitted by a delegation of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) in Singha Durbar today.
On the occasion, he expressed the conviction that the press would remain fully independent on other topics excepting the topics that are against nationality, national integrity and social harmony that have been constitutionally prohibited.
“Let us all remain within professional ethics, not on conflict of interest in this sector. The government is ready to collaborate in this,” he said.
Expressing regrets that the salary of working journalists which was increased has not been implemented in all the media despite the government raising it on the recommendation of the Minimum Wage Fixation Committee, Minister Baskota wished the FNJ success in its movement calling for full implementation of this. The FNJ is preparing to wage a movement again over this issue.
He asserted that the new pay has been implemented in the communications media promoted by the government and the government has not been able to distribute the press passes to the working journalists despite it wanting to do that as many media houses have not provided the particulars of the salary.
Thanking the FNJ for its support to the ‘clean feed’ policy, Minister Baskota said the government would always partner on the issues like living allowance to senior journalists, providing support in case of accident at workplace and further systematizing the proportional advertisement.
In the context of taking Nepal Television and Radio Nepal into the Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) model, preparations are being made to set up the PSB based on Nepali uniqueness along with its autonomy and the right to also broadcast advertisement, he said.
“It looks as if it (PSB) cannot be sustained without advertisements. There is not government control in such institution but it should also not be out of touch with the government either. Government is also a part of society,” the Minister explained.
Regarding the complaint that many journalists were in police custody, Communications Minister said no journalist should be made to suffer for writing news on the basis of constitutional dignity. However, other laws are drawn if the journalists are found involved in illegal activities disturbing the law and order.
FNJ Acting President Dilip Thapa Magar handed over the memorandum to the Communications Minister Baskota. Among other things, the memorandum calls for full press freedom. FNJ General Secretary Ramesh Bista suggested that it would be easy for the government is prior discussions are held with the stakeholders concerned regarding the Mass Communications Act that is in the offing.

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