Face off between Nepali media and government enters its extreme phase

Kathamandu/New Delh, Jun.19: The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ ) today launched its third phase of of more extreme protest against the Media Council Bill tabled by the government in the Federal Parliament. 

A press statement issued by the FNJ in this regard said that a nationwide signature campaign was started to assert pressure on the government to withdraw the draconian bill intending to gag the media. 

The Media organization informed that its central office, district office and all the associate office that it would conduct a signature campaign for three days and submit the signatures to Prime Minster KP Sharma Oli through the concerned district administration offices, on June 21. 

Meanwhile, the organization has also appealed all journalists, media, professionals, political parties, civil society, rights activists and general public for their active participation in the signature campaign. 

It may be noted that Section 18 (1) of the new bill says that if any media publish contents in contravention of the code of conduct, and if an investigation launched after the complaint finds that such news contents had damaged the reputation of the complainant, the council can impose a fine between Rs 25,000 and one million rupees on media outlets, publishers, editors and reporters. The bill has drawn flak from all corners, including journalists and other stakeholders. 

At the same time, Section 17 of bill proposes punishment for violating the code of conduct, which includes suspending press pass of media persons and downgrading the classification of print media outlets. The draconian bill also allows a government-controlled Nepal Media Council to replace the existing Press Council Nepal to curtail the press freedom, instead of empowering it. 

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