Nepal's Proposed Media Regulation Bill Sparks Debate on Online Journalism Standards

Nepal's Proposed Media Regulation Bill Sparks Debate on Online Journalism Standards

The Nepalese government has reignited discussions on media regulation with a proposed bill that could significantly impact the country's online landscape. The "Bill to Amend and Consolidate the Law on Media Council" seeks to expand the definition of a "communication organization" to encompass social media platforms like YouTube channels, Facebook pages, and blogs.

This move would bring these platforms under the purview of the Media Council, a government body tasked with promoting ethical journalism practices. The Council would gain the authority to monitor social media content for adherence to journalistic codes and take action against violations. This could range from issuing warnings and requesting corrections to potentially removing content deemed unlawful.

Supporters of the legislation assert its importance in promoting ethical journalism in the modern era. They emphasize the increasing influence of social media as a significant information source, underscoring the imperative to enforce accountability for the material they distribute.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) emphasizes its commitment to both protecting freedom of expression and ensuring the accuracy and fairness of information shared online. The bill includes a provision requiring media organizations, including those operating on social media, to disclose their investment sources and any potential conflicts of interest that might arise. This aims to promote transparency in media ownership and prevent commercial interests from unduly influencing editorial decisions.

However, the bill has drawn criticism from some quarters concerned about its potential impact on freedom of expression. Critics fear it could lead to censorship and stifle online discourse. Additionally, some express concerns that the disclosure requirement for investment sources might compromise the independence of media outlets.

This revised bill follows a previous attempt in 2020 that faced significant controversy due to provisions like mandatory journalist licensing and potential imprisonment for publishing certain content. Those elements have been removed in the current version.

The National Assembly is currently reviewing the proposed bill, which, if approved, would signify a significant change in Nepal's media regulation for both traditional and online platforms. There is expected to be ongoing discussion in the upcoming weeks on finding a harmonious approach to upholding responsible journalism while safeguarding freedom of expression in the era of digital media.

Furthermore, the bill's impact on citizen journalism and independent online voices remains to be seen. The bill might necessitate further clarification on how it would apply to individual social media users who share news or commentary, as opposed to established online publications.

The potential economic implications of the bill are also under scrutiny.  While some argue that increased transparency in media ownership can benefit the industry by attracting investment, others worry that burdensome regulations might stifle the growth of online media platforms.

Related News

No stories found.
Ph: ++977-1-5172640 | | Publisher : Mellow Arc Media Pvt.Ltd.| Editor: Madhusudan Bajgain| Reg.No: 00102/078-079
Daily News Nepal