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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 72

Nepal: Controversial media control ordinance proclaimed

[b]Nepal: Controversial media control ordinance proclaimed [/b]

BY Bikash Sangraula - Khatmandu

[b] Khatmandu, 11 October, ([/b] Nepal’s Royalist Government on Sunday promulgated a Media Ordinance imposing heavy restrictions on independent media.

The ordinance imposes restrictions on media ownership, bans publications of materials deemed “helpful to terrorists”, increases the fine on publishers and editors for defamation by 10 times and bans news broadcasts through FM stations.

The ordinance took five months to be promulgated after being passed by the cabinet formed by King Gyanendra after his coup early this year. In mid-May the contents of the ordinance had been leaked to the media, inviting widespread protests.

The ordinance makes several amendments on Nepal’s Radio Act, Press and Publication Act and National Broadcasting Act.

According to the new ordinance, FM stations, the most popular medium of news and information in the country, cannot broadcast news items. There are 46 FM stations operating in the country. FM stations are the medium with the widest reach in the country.

News broadcasts on FM stations had been banned after the royal takeover of February 1, 2005. The FM stations, most of which carry license for news broadcasts, filed a petition at Nepal’s Supreme Court last month seeking to exercise their right. The apex court recently gave a restraining order to the government’s ban on news broadcasts.

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