NEPAL: FM radio stations start airing news
Ruling in favor of Rainbow FM grants radio stations the right to resume airing news programs, says president of the Nepal Bar Association
Thursday, August 11, 2005
AsiaMedia Editor's Note: Reports are unclear as to whether the lifting of the state of emergency on April 30 allows for press freedom, and thus Nepalnews may still be operating under the directives of King Gyanendra.
Following a verdict by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, a number of FM radio stations around the country have started airing news and current affairs-based programmes.
Nepal FM, Radio Sworgadwari FM in Dang and Butwal FM in Butwal, among others, have started airing news and current affairs-based programmes from Wednesday evening. A number of other radio stations are said to be preparing to air news bulletins from Thursday, reports said.
In response to a writ petition filed by Kathmandu-based Rainbow FM Pvt. Ltd, that is launching its programmes with call-sign 'Nepal FM 91.8,' a single bench of justice Anup Raj Sharma issued an interim order asking the government not to take any action against the FM station until final disposal of the case.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) on Aug 3 had sent a letter to the FM asking why its license should not be revoked for defying the government’s order not to air news and news-related programs from FM radio stations.
Nepal FM had aired the news of King’s Birthday on July 7. The radio station has been running a program "Rajdhani Khabar" since then focusing on social and development issues of the capital Kathmandu.
"Wednesday’s court verdict is applicable to all the FM stations around the country. Now, all the FM stations are free to air news programmes and (the radio stations) should utilize this opportunity in a positive way," said Shambhu Thapa, president of Nepal Bar Association. "Right to information is a non-suspendable fundamental right of the people and the government can, in no way, snatch it away," he added.
Following the Feb. 1 royal takeover, the government had issued orders to over 50 FM radio stations across the country not to broadcast news and news-related programs and air what it called 'entertainment-based programs only.'
"The court verdict is a milestone in the on-going movement to establish right to free speech in the country," said Shiva Gaule, vice president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ).
Save Independent Radio Movement (SIRM) hailed the SC decision. Nepal FM staff lit candles at the station premises on Wednesday welcoming the court verdict—which has come as a blow to the government.
The authorities were claiming that FM stations around the world did not broadcast news. There has been no comment from the officials regarding Wednesday’s court verdict.
Date Posted: 8/11/2005