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News Reader Expelled, FM Radios Closed Down

Lately, Freedom Forum has recorded two incidents of press freedom violation and violation of people's right to information in the country.

One is the closure of four FM radios in Gulmi, and another expulsion of a news presenter and reporter and ban on his program from Damauli FM, districts both from the western hilly region of Nepal. Both incidents occurred on June 4, 2013.

Pradeep Kaphle, news presenter, editor and reporter at the Damauli FM was sacked without prior notice and his program banned from the radio all of a sudden.

Mr Kaphle said to the Media Monitoring Desk of Freedom Forum, "I was banned from entering the FM Office by the management on June 4, and my programs were also cancelled and banned from airing a day earlier. I was informed over phone but not with formal or written information."

The decision to sack him, he argues, came suddenly after the management meeting of June 2 attended by its patron Govind Raj Joshi.

This is the second time he was harassed and humiliated by the FM station. He was demoted to news reader and reporter from the News Chief on January 21, 2013 merely because he aired the views of a leader live from a program. The leader giving speech, as he said, was objected by the patron of FM, Govind Raj Joshi.
He was made a victim of the rivalry of political leaders in the district.

Mr Kaphle further informed that he was the regular staff (News Chief, editor, repoter) since the establishment of the FM five years back. He has share in the FM too.

"I, despite being victimized by the management need respected exit- as I need an appointment letter which I've not been provided till date. Then I myself will tender resignation and leave the hostile work atmosphere."

The story shows deplorable situation of a working journalist in Nepal. The FM management never abided by the Working Journalists' Act but suppressed journalists' rights, and misused them for partisan interest.

Freedom Forum vehemently condemns this act of the FM management which not only disgraced and humiliated the journalist but also violated the citizens' right to information by banning his programs.

In a separate case in Gulmi, four FM stations- Radio Resunga, Community Radio Sky, Ruru FM and Gulmi FM closed entire service in a bid to mount pressure on the concerned authorities to manage regular power supply for airing.

Talking to Freedom Forum, Ghanashyam Gautam, Station Manager at the Community Radio Sky, said, "We were compelled to close down the FMs because there was no power supply round the clock to the FMs, in the entire district."

It, he argued, was because of the irresponsibility of the Office of Electricity Authority in the district. It failed to manage load shedding hours.

On the other hand the people in the district have been desperately waiting the resumption of radios as the closure deprived them of information.

In this case, Freedom Forum holds the view that it's the State's failure on infrastructure development which is a major indicator of media development.

Therefore, every concerned authority in the district needs to address the acute shortage of power supply in Gulmi district and ensure people's right to information.