The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has taken a serious objection to the Public Service Broadcasting Bill, recently registered by Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in the National Assembly on July 8.

The government-sponsored bill envisages merger between the state radio and tv, radio Nepal and NTV respectively.

Issuing a press release yesterday, FNJ said the government had drafted the bill to maintain its ownership over public media and such a move was in contradiction of international principles and generally accepted norms of public service broadcasting.

“The government has proposed to further tighten its control over public media. As per the international practice, a government doesn’t operate media business in a democracy. Hence, we are alarmed by the provisions in the bill,” the press release read.

It also recalled that the government had repeatedly expressed its commitment to free state-owned Radio Nepal and Nepal Television from government ownership.

“The government has exposed its undemocratic attitude by registering the bill in the Upper House while contradicting its own commitment as well as the provisions stipulated in the existing National Media Policy.”

The release added, “Definition of public service broadcasting and provisions related to formation of a firm, its objectives, organisational structure and appointment of officials are not in compliance with the norms of public service broadcasting,” read the release.

The bill will pave the way for the government to exercise more control over Radio Nepal and NTV, and make the broadcast entities more loyal to it.

The bill states that a minister or state minister shall be the chairperson of the Public Service Broadcasting Council while secretaries and persons appointed by the government shall act as its members.

“This provision is guided by the government’s intention to curtail press freedom. We demand the government to proceed with the bill, only after necessary revision by holding discussion with the stakeholders,” read the release.