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 JULY 20, 2009  Government Policy and Budget Lack Focus on Media Reform

Freedom Forum expresses its serious concern over the government's apathy towards bringing concrete initiatives on media reforms issue for which the Forum has been engaging its efforts through Agenda for Change (AFC) for the last two years. 

The government has failed to realize the urgency of bringing timely reforms in media laws and policies since its policy and programme and budget for fiscal year 2009-10 have not brought out any progressive measures for the enhancement of free press and freedom of expression. 

It is regrettable that the government remained tightlipped towards formulating long-term development goals and strategies to resolve the problems of working journalists and guarantee professional safety and institutional security of media persons and house. 

"Issues such as effective monitoring of the implementation of Working Journalists Act (WJA), Right to information Act, appointment of Press Registrar, social security schemes for journalists, development of public service broadcasting authority, amendment of the press and publication act and national broadcasting act as well as change the government-owned media as a public media are some of the genuine issues not dealt by the government's policy and programme and budget this year. 

However, Freedom Forum welcomes the government's policy of exempting the renewal fee of radio FMs and Televisions, doubling the spending under Public Welfare Advertisements, instituting fund for the welfare of senior journalists and providing relief to journalists injured and killed during insurgency. 

The Forum urges the government to implement the provisions in an effective and efficient way and remain sensitive enough to reckon the essence and importance of media sector reform in line with the AFC recommendations prepared by Freedom Forum including Federation of Nepali Journalist, Article 19 and other experts and organizations. 

Taranath Dahal

July 20, 2009