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Government Programs and Policies on Media Lacks Clarity

The government unveiled its programs and policies on July 3, 2011 for the fiscal year 2011/012. In spite of various things stated in the programs and policies in terms of press and media freedom, it lacks basic and real needs of the sector at the moment.

First, the plan to formulate an 'integrated information and communications policy' by the government is illogical because bringing this policy at a time when there is merely two months to go to frame the new constitution is unlikely to be all-encompassing and at the same times unworthy. It has harbored doubts since the government's plan has ignored the recommendations furnished by the High Level Media Commission formed by the government following the democratic people's movement of 2007. This is the first such a comprehensive report, prepared after a rigorous consultations with various stakeholders, in line with internationally accepted standards and principles of freedom of expression and press freedom.

"The guiding principles of the government plan on media rights and development is not clear, which has obviously created a wave of suspicion", said Freedom Forum's Chairperson Taranath Dahal, adding that "At a time when the Ministry of Information and Communication is in the hand of Maoist party that has the schooling to increase state role on media, there is a fear whether the free and professional media can grow with unrestricted freedom and working environment in the country."
In another note, the government has unveiled a plan to manage insurance of working journalists. If the task is to be undertaken by the State, the chances of State control on journalists are high. It is detestable matter in democracy as the journalists should be provided insurance by the employers but not by the government. The policy is well in itself but it should be rather in conformity of the Working Journalists Act.

Similarly, the government programs and policies have failed to ensure media freedom, right to information, and going public service broadcasting. It also does not guarantee the dissemination of information but merely focuses on the protection of information which is an autocracy syndrome.
All in all, Freedom Forum deems the government's program and policies apparently good but ambiguous and possibly deceptive in essence in terms of press and media freedom.