Financial committee of the Council of Ministers on Monday has passed “Directives to Regulate Online News Media 2016”. Spokesperson of Ministry of Information and Communication Ramchandra Dhakal gave details to Lokaantar regarding the directives. The spirit of those details is that the government wants online news portals to be dignified and responsible.
The government wishes online media to be alert and sensitive while disseminating information regarding public interest, which is positive. It goes without saying that unmanaged information technology can be misused. Many online portals have been functioning in Nepal without providing even minimal information about name of online portal and introduction of operators and editors of the portal. This practice has put journalists seriously working in this sector in difficulty.
This issue, however, is interrelated with fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by the constitution. That is why the government needs to take care about situation in which freedom of expression; right to information and citizen’s rights are violated. Spokesperson Dhakal informed that many points and issues will be made clear once the regulating Act is prepared and this might console online media at a level for now. While deliberating on the draft of the Act, people’s representatives will take due care about protection of citizens’ rights. While preparing the Act, the government can use its constitutional power to incorporate provision of prohibiting any materials that harm sovereignty, geographical integrity and nationality among other things. The government will face less criticism in implementing provisions in sections and sub-sections of the Act that respects citizens’ rights.
Media has moved far ahead from print. Fast development of information technology ushered in the age of radio and television and now the internet dominates media. Information and communication equipment based on digital system have been increasing by the day. Smartphone technology has eased access to news and information. The government can conduct many projects for the country’s benefit with the help of modern technology. This advanced technology has paved the way for forward-thinking. Therefore, the government should limit itself to the role of a guide that facilitates smooth flow of information because any step that appears to be controlling and monitoring media will go against the zeitgeist.
Image source: Microsoft