Kathmandu, Jan 1 – Nepali media has witnessed sharp rise in the incidents of press freedom violation during 2017 compared to the previous year.
A total of 66 anti-press incidents occurred in the year 2017 while it was only 25 in 2016, stated annual media monitoring report made public by Freedom Forum – a CSO working in the area of freedom of expression and information.
There were 16 incidents of attack, 9 threats and death threats combined, 11 manhandles and 13 arrest/detention and 11 obstruction along with two incidents of seizure and one of vandalism in media house.
As the year-2017 saw three-tiers of elections –local, provincial and federal – the political activities grew alarmingly where the atmosphere for press freedom received less priority, the report reads.
“Despite the country making paradigm shift with the exercise of franchise, the election campaigning and activities failed to show due respect to freedom of expression and press freedom, thereby witnessing huge surge in the number of press freedom violation”, it is stated.
Although 2017 is also regarded as the law making year, there were no significant laws and policies that created better atmosphere to respect freedom of expression and of press.
Two important acts replacing the half-century plus old Muliki Ain (Civil Code) was a positive step, but lack of free expression friendly provisions and lackadaisical efforts from State side to bring reforms on other media related policies is another area drawing attention.
The report stated that as many as 230 journalists were affected in 2017 while exercising their journalism profession.
“Kathmandu district alone witnessed the highest 22 press freedom violation incidents”, the report mentioned, adding that Province-1 witnessed two incidents of press freedom violation which is the lowest compared to Province-3 that saw 34 incidents of violation.
Likewise, Province- 5 and 6 had 3 incidents each while Province-4 saw six incidents and Province-7 had 8 violations.
The report has also stated that internet penetration has reached to 62.89% where it was 52.7% last year.
Although there is a significant growth of internet penetration propelling information flow, the accessibility is waiting due attention to bring on board the marginalized people to bridge the digital divide.
According to the report, many journalists were detained without sufficient ground of their anti-law activities.
The families of the journalists who became conflict victims are desperately waiting for justice. No noticeable efforts have been made from State side to this regard.
As internet is becoming increasingly pervasive in Nepal, it has also become an easy medium (especially through Facebook) to harass journalists. Out of 66 incidents, 5 cases of threat were recorded during the year.
The report noted that women presence in print media sees slow growth. The media monitoring found gradual improvement in the women’s presence.
“The newspaper having less than three female bylines in first three months of the year has increased to seven female byline in the recent three months”, the report reads.
However, the main news pages of Nepali print media are still dominated by news on politics and governmental affairs by 56.9% being followed by social and legal news (23.2%).
Among total 4,317 news stories monitored from nine main national dailies, only 2,538 news contained named (known) bylines; among which only 9.22% were females. “Out of 9,024 news sources (as mentioned in the contents monitored) 82.5% were male whereas, only 9.59% were female sources”, the report explained.