Recently, Nepal has witnessed the spurt of online media, thanks to the expansion of internet and growing use of smart phones. Even the legacy media have joined the bandwagon of digital sphere to augment their visibility. It is resulted after the paradigm migration of readers/viewers/listeners shifted to internet-based space. The digital/internet has been the best platform for media convergence- reading, listening, watching facility at the same platform. It is evident that it is the reason behind the increase in the number of YouTubers in Nepal.
In this regard, the Youtubers from across the country gathered and showed keen interest to work themselves as the television – the online television. Freedom Forum, as the organizing working for internet freedoms and freedom of expression online was keenly observing the development. Since the very beginning, FF was aware that any debates and discussion surrounding internet and digital spaces should not undermine freedom of expression online. Therefore, FF grew interested on the formation of Online Television Association with the gathering of the YouTubers.
Now, the Association came up with the idea that those involved in it were for the self-regulation on it and could follow the code of conduct the journalism adopted. It suggested they were aware that their works should contribute to citizen’s freedom of expression online. Invoking the section 1.7 and 2.6 of the National Mass Media Policy, the Association brought the ‘Online TV Self-Regulation Directive, 2077’.
It has aimed at strengthening online television journalism and making systematic and responsible the Youtubers. The directive has provisioned ownership and liability, editorial policy, declaration of conflict of interest, human resources, social inclusion, and self-regulation ombudsman.
For this, Freedom Forum provided expertise and facilitation for whetting the debate and discussion for bringing the directive. As per the directive, the online television are for registering the company and running in with due ownership and liability. In addition to the journalistic code, the document has stated that an ombudsman will be formed for the monitoring of the self regulation on online media.
In this regard, FF Executive Chairman Taranath Dahal observes, “At a time when the country has seen a huge number of online media, the activism of YouTubers to gather for common interest for promoting freedom of expression online and online journalism is a welcome initiative in deed. It indicates remarkable earnestness to make online television professional. It is time to promote such novel initiative.”