The king again

Published: Tuesday 15 November 2005

Publication and Broadcasting Nepal

The king of Nepal probably wants the country's media to be his majesty's voice. The country's Press and Publication Act, as well as its Radio and National Broadcasting Act have been amended; so has the Defamation Act. There are now tighter provisions concerning publication and broadcast of what the monarch's government deem s as "defamatory material".

The authorities have also been authorised to slap heavy fines on publishers and editors if the contents dished out by them is "found to be helpful to terrorists". Publications carrying "defamatory items" are likely to be fined anything ranging from Nepalese Rs 10, 000 to Rs 100,000 (Indian Rs 6,200-Rs 62,000). Anyone publishing, translating or importing banned items will be subjected to a penalty of Nepalese Rs 500,000 (Indian Rs 310,000).

According to the new law, the country's fm stations can only broadcast information related to health, education, sport, population, environment, weather or "activities of development and construction". But these stations have begun violating these laws. They have widespread support. Says Shambhu Thapa, president of the Kathmandu-based Nepal Bar Association, "We are ready to stop our daily work and take to the streets to protest against the ordinance. We want the government to restore the people's right to information".

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