Subject: Mass Communication
This Journalists’ Code of Conduct, 2060 (2003) has been framed and enforced, pursuant to Section 7 (b) of the Press Council Act. This Code of Conduct, which has been amended and revised in 2008, shall apply to all journalists and communication media working in Nepal. This Code of Conduct defines “journalist” means media person involved in journalism-oriented work such as the chief editor, editors, members of editorial board, correspondents, columnists, photo journalists, press, camerapersons, cartoonists, program producers and runners, or costume designers, visual or language editors associated with activities such as collection, production, editing and transmission of news material through communication media of any nature or agency or organization producing and distributing news-oriented programs.
Freedom of the press is ‘the right to publish news and opinions in the press without the government removing any of the information’ (OALD 7th Ed.). Freedom of the press is the guarantee by a government of free public press for its citizens and their associations, extended to members of news gathering organizations, and their published reporting. It also extends to news gathering and processes involved in obtaining information for public distribution.
The freedom of the press is a defense of democracy, and against the state or undemocratic government. Historically, it is a hard-won freedom in the past centuries, by political activists, writers and journalists risking their lives to jail or executive. In totalitarian countries struggle of press freedom is ongoing. In many democratic countries, press freedom is guaranteed in their constitutions.
Press freedom is an essential part of the broader human right of freedom of speech or freedom of expression. It is the liberty to express and exchange opinions and information, and to seek self-fulfillment as individuals in self-expression and in the holding of chosen beliefs. Through open debate, freedom of speech permits societies to establish what is true. The protection of such freedom in modern constitutions is probably more closely connected with one particular utilitarian theme-the desirability of an informed electorate’. Press freedom can be interpreted, in some context, as being distinct from any general freedom of speech.
Press freedom means that anyone can launch a newspaper, magazine or website to publish their views. But this freedom is not absolute. There are competing human rights, e.g. the protection of reputation against defamation, to the preservation of public order. These and national security considerations cause societies to limit press freedom to varying degrees. In press freedom societies, normally publishers will not be constrained before they publish, they may subsequently face legal action, for example, libel or criminal proceedings, if matter published breaches the rights of other people.
A Media Code of Conduct is a set of commonly accepted guidelines that govern the conduct of media organizations and those that work in them and promote the freedom of the media. In addition to this, it is a set of self-governing rules that rely on shared buy-in and agreement for success. On the other hand, media code of conduct is a means of engagement with the Government/Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) on issues of media behavior, particularly during times of stress. Furthermore, it is a way to ensure that our media organizations (public, private and community) remain independent; and very importantly, it is a practical guide for journalists, editors and media consumers on how to approach important issues of media behavior.
A voluntary Code of Conduct is not legally enforceable, although it draws on the legal framework under which the media operates. Violations of the code of conduct may also be violations of laws or regulations. In the case where the voluntary Code of Conduct provision mirrors a provision in the Press Council Nepal (PCN) Journalists’ Code of Conduct (2003), a breach of that provision would give rise to a potential complaint to the PCN.
Media codes of conduct have been used effectively in a wide variety of countries and situations to help ensure, to the extent possible, that media coverage of elections or other events is appropriate and conforms to commonly accepted guidelines without infringing on the freedom of the media. A code of conduct also acts as a significant tool in protecting media organizations from direct party influence. In addition to these, a media code of conduct is also a day to day guide providing practical advice on how to cover a variety of potentially sensitive issues.
A media code of conduct can:
Decree or Sanad is an official order issued by the prime Minister during the Rana regime. In Rana regime, most of the printing activities were regulated by the Prime Ministers themselves. Rana Prime Minister Dev Shamsher issued a Decree, called Sanad in Nepali, in order to publish Gorkhapatra weekly before two weeks of its publication. This was the beginning point of press law in Nepal. As the guidelines for Gorkhapatra publication, the Sanad declared some codes regarding what-to-publish and what-not-to-publish. In Sanad, there were 15 points on what-to-publish and 6 points on what-not-to-publish.
Within 50 years of first press established in Nepal, all the press machines were possessed by Rana family or their kith and kin. Pamphlets, tickets, envelope etc. had not been allowed to publish except the Prime Minister issued a decree to do so. There was not any clear law relating to press and publication. Later, Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher established Gorkha Bhasha Prakashini Samiti (later it was renamed as Nepali Bhasha Prakashini Samiti ) in 1970 and developed it as a gatekeeping agency; it was established in order to limit the freedom of authors and poets. It was the first institution which censored the media.
As the King Tribhuvan declared the end of 104 years long Rana oligarchy regime and the beginning of democracy on 18 February 1951 (7 Falgun 2007 BS), the Nepal Interim Government Act, 1951 was promulgated on 11 April (Chaitra 29) of the same year. Article 16 of the Constitution stated “subject to the prevailing laws, every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.”
Libel and Defamation: According to Libel and Defamation Act 1959, the following situation may create libel and defamation:
If the court decides of defamation or insult upon some person, the authority can make some reasonable compensation from the perpetrator to the victim. Compensation of posthumous insults will be paid to his/her descendants. (Art, 12)
Prasaran Patrakarita: Hate Kitab (selected topics) Nepal Press Institute, 1997.
Mass Media Laws and Regulations in Nepal.
Visho Suchana tatha Sanchar Pranali Ka Naya Ayama haru , Nepal press institute.
The Constitution of Nepal(selected topics). (2047)
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