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Freedom of expression is borderless issue, so regulate only content not entire media

The broadcast of private Indian news channels has been stopped in Nepal on the 9th of July, except Doordarshan, the state-owned television channel in India. The cable operators of Nepal took this decision reasoning that the Indian News Channel broadcasted misleading news content regarding Nepal in recent times.

The said ban came in the wake of unfounded reports on Nepal including defamatory remarks and commentaries on Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Chinese Envoy to Nepal. The multimedia system operators have decided to take on the strict ban effective immediately from Thursday. A news channel named Zee Hindustan had fabricated information in their news show linking Prime Minister with Chinese Envoy to Nepal Hou Yanqi.   

The cable operators have claimed that the said decision was their own, and not enforced by the Government of Nepal.

FF highlights the importance of seeking appropriate legal measures with sufficient reasoning if any media content is against the state interest. The government should recognize the concerned media and the specific contents which violate the state's interest. Legal remedies can also be sought with a clear basis.

However, the service providers and carriers of media under no circumstances can decide either to block or unblock media, since they are not the institution to regulate these actions. This trend is specifically condemnable because it sets a dangerous precedent where any institutions without authority can be involved in content regulations in the future.

FF is concerned over the action where drastic measures have been taken on all the news channels without investigating which particular channel violated the ethics of journalism. However, adopting drastic actions against all the media alike without pointing out the media who committed the mistake is against the notion of democracy and a state which adheres to the principle of rule of law. FF urges the concerned parties and authorities to act according to the law and take measures against the particular news channel, not all. Otherwise, it will jeopardize the right of the public to receive free, fair, and unbiased information by the media, at the international, and national levels.

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