A group of four members of the research sub-committee under the Legislative Management Committee (National Assembly), gathered at Freedom Forum seeking suggestions on Media Council bill on 20th Nov 2019. The committee sent an email regarding their visit to FF and a set of questionnaires to be answered in the meeting the day after. FF’s experts not only discussed the given questionnaires but also handed reviewed documents of Media Council Bill, policy brief and a comparative study of Media Council Bill among other countries as well.
Moreover, the proposed bill contained widened, unclear and vague clauses related to specific definitions, contents of the bill. Furthermore, the structure and the representative of the council was only another platform of government officials which is quite objectionable. The odd procedures and responsibility prescribed in the bill were against FOE standards.
On the contrary, FF suggested amendments to 20 provisions in 15 sections of the bill. The main recommendations are defined as follows:
- Suggested appointing a person having qualification to be a judge of the Supreme Court as head of the proposed media council.
- Similarly, two lawmakers including a woman from lower house and one from the upper house recommended by the speaker and chairperson of the National Assembly respectively should be the member of the council.
- The president of FNJ, a professor or associate professor of journalism department at a university, one senior journalist, worked on editorial capacity from each State, three working journalist elected by FNJ assembly including a women and five noted personalities with experience in human right, gender inclusion, language, communication management or research are recommended as member of the council with two women.
- A recommendation committee headed by the chairperson of the National Assembly where one senior journalist nominated by Ministry and chief of the Mass Communication and Journalism of Department of TU are proposed as members.
- A heavy amount of fine and punishment should be revoked and journalist involved in violation of the media code will be asked to make a public apology or face blacklisting or publishing of his/her name instead.
- Exclude ‘publisher’ from editorial responsibility.
- Nullified government directions to the council.
- Incorporated and incite self-regulation provisions in the bill.
The meeting comprised of eight participants where there were 4 members of research sub-committee of Legislative Management Committee (NA) namely Sher Bahadur Kunwar, Udaya Sharma, Singha Bahadur BK with Yutol Tamang and four from Freedom Forum namely Haribinod Adhikari, Taranath Dahal, Sanjeeb Ghimire, and Bhawana Poddar under CS:MAP project. Out of eight participants, three were females.