Policy Research Institute Holds Dialogue with Media Workers

November 2, 2021

On 2 November 2021, Policy Research Institute held a dialogue with media workers to discuss policies governing the media sector and the status of their implementation. The event aimed to explore policy responses to the issues facing the media sector.

Present at the dialogue were Kartikeya Ghimire (Ketaketi Media), Shiba Prasad Satyal, (Online Journalists Association), Achyut Aryal (Radio Nepal), Bhagawan Khanal (Karobar Daily), Raj Shahi, Krishna Acharya (Broadcasting Association), Saraswati Karmacharya (Nepal Samacharpatra), Subodh Gautam (Association of Environmental Journalists), Shiromani Dawadi (Annapurna Media Network), Rupa Ghimire and Pradip Man Shing (Janata Television), and Shreeram Upadhyaya, Jiwan Bhattarai and Ambika Bajgain (Araniko Television).

Opened and chaired by PRI Executive Chairperson Dr Bishnu Raj Upreti, the dialogue session was moderated by PRI’s Information and Knowledge Management Department Head Dr Mukunda Raj Kattel. Among others, the following issues were underlined in the dialogue.

  • Media work is risky, more so in the case of investigation and reporting of critical issues. However, the reporters on the ground – who investigate issues, bear witness to untoward developments and generate news of public concern – are in a state of economic exploitation. They have no job security. In most cases, reporters are rarely paid on time. The Working Journalist Act, which is expected to redress some of the difficulties facing the journalists, is pending for the last 27 years. Similarly, the social security policy introduced by the government has not been implemented by media houses. There should be a policy solution to this issue.
  • The policy on advertisements needs revision, especially as regards contents regulation by wellbeing, and sensitivity of age groups such as children.
  • There should be a policy to control negative content and promote positive and exemplary ones in the media.
  • Nearly 600 radio stations are up and running now. They have some 95 per cent of the nationwide coverage. Operating radio requires licensing and permits, the latter is also a power of local governments currently. They have, however, no authority to issue a license, for which one has to go to Kathmandu. Nepal’s radio policy should be aligned with the spirit of federalization.
  • Nepal has the right to information Act. However, it is very difficult to get information from government offices. This incompatibility should be addressed. Why do we enact policies that cannot be implemented?
  • There is much to do to professionalize Nepal’s media sector. Journalists are not properly oriented and trained in the basics of media ethics. The right to privacy, for example, is non-negotiable. However, this is not respected in media reporting. In breach of such basic values, media houses are not held to account.
  • Regular courts do not appear to understand and unpack the complexity of issues related to media. There is a need for a separate court to adjudicate media complaints.
  • A huge amount of budget is set aside for public advertisements. However, their distribution is uneven, non-transparent and marred by irregularities. There should be a policy to distribute advertisements based on the quality of content.