Press and Laws

Subject: Mass Communication

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Overview

For the most developed countries, freedom the press implies that all people should have the right to express themselves in writing or in any other way of expression of personal opinion or creativity. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) indicates-" Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to whole opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers." Codes of conduct are effective in ensuring genuine freedom of expression by establishing the principle that media coverage should include balance. They are also an educational tool, which allows journalist, editors and station management to learn about an subscribe to practices content in the code.
Press and Laws

Standards and Ethics in Journalism

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.

  • Protection and promotion of press freedom
  • Respect for humanitarianism, human rights, and international relations
  • Safeguard and enforce the right to information
  • Imparting true and factual information
  • Editorial freedom and accountability
  • Respect for right to privacy

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Press Freedom and Responsibility

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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.

Code of Conduct

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What is Media Code of conduct?

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.

Role of Media Code of Conduct

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.

What Can a Code of Conduct Achieve?

A media code of conduct can:

  • Ensure genuine freedom of expression by establishing the principle that media coverage should be balanced;
  • Act as a tool to protect media organizations from direct political influence;
  • Protect a critical and free voice in our community;
  • Create a broadcast environment that is free from discrimination, censorship, and editorial self-interest; and
  • Provide guidance to journalists and editors on how to approach coverage of elections, inflammatory events or stories that could be offensive or unsuitable for children.

Press laws and regulations in Nepal

  • Press Laws during the Rana Regime (1901-1951)

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.

  • Press Laws during the Democracy Decade (1951-1960)

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 Obscenities

Libel and Defamation: According to Libel and Defamation Act 1959, the following situation may create libel and defamation:

  1. If any person, knowing that somebody’s personality and dignity has to be damaged, tries to harm his/her prestige and dignity by publishing or broadcasting any materials called libel or defamation. In order words, any kind of blame without proof which might harm the prestige and dignity of another person is called libel.
  2. If anybody blames the dead person, and the members of his/her family or relatives feel that their moral, social prestige and dignity has been harmed by such blame, it also has to be dealt as a libel case.
  3. If anybody tries to destroy the character of other in the false base, it must be libel case.
  4. It might not be libel case if there is no blame directly or indirectly, which is believed to have damaged anybody’s intellectual or moral, racial, professional character or fame. The description of the human body, which is not in a despised way, might not be libel case.

  • Provision of Punishment


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  1. If anybody publishes/broadcasts any letter, word or picture knowingly to damage anybody’s prestige and characters, s/he has to be punished up to 5 thousand rupees and 6 months to 2 years jail sentence.( Art,5
  2. If anybody sales libel materials, s/he has to be fined up to 100 rupees and imprison up to six months. (Art,6)
  3. If anybody scolds knowingly some particular person to engage and do something violent to jeopardize the peace, such person is liable to publish from 100 to 500 and 6 months jail. (Art,7)
  4. If anybody expresses, shows, performs by gestures with the intention of insulting women or hamper their privacy, the person will be punished from 100 to 500 and imprison up to six months. (Art, 8)
  5. Uncomplicated insults or defamatory works by general people without any wrong intention will not be punished by this Act. (Art,9)
  6. If any person, despite no solid ground to file the case on libel and obscenities, files the case in the court to defame or insult other, the person will be fined 500 to 5000. The person also must pay all kinds of expenses during the case to the person also must pay all kinds of expenses during the case to the person in opposition. (Art, 10)
  7. The case must be filed within six months of the reason to file the case in court. (Art, 11)

  • Provision of Compensation

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)

Reference:

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)

Things to remember
  1. The offence inlaw of defaming other person in published work by way of derogatory references that cause either damage tothe person in a published work by way of derogatory reference that cause either damage to the persons reputation or material harm to their interest or both.
  2. Principle of good practice to address issues faced by professional journalist. These are most widely known to journalist as their professional "code of ethics' or the "canons of journalism".
  3. Press freedom includes the immunity of the communication media including newspapers, books, magazines, radio and televiaion from government control or censorship. It is regarded as fundamental to individual rights.
  • It includes every relationship which established among the people.
  • There can be more than one community in a society. Community smaller than society.
  • It is a network of social relationships which cannot see or touched.
  • common interests and common objectives are not necessary for society.

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