The eleventh annual meeting of the South Asia
Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) at Kathmandu, between July 21 and 23, takes
serious note of the continuing crisis of livelihoods for journalists and media workers
in all eight countries of South Asia.
seeks to be the common voice of journalists from South Asia. It represents all
regional affiliates of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in
coalition with journalists' organisations and press freedom partners working
for a free and fair media founded on sound and ethical journalism.
eleventh SAMSN meeting observes that despite statutory protections available in
Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, the media industry’s compliance with the
legal obligations of decent wages and working conditions, remains dismal. Governments
have proven powerless in curbing these violations of the law. Neither incentive
schemes to improve compliance, nor punitive measures through the denial of
government advertisements, have proven effective.
observes with concern that the media industry has been increasingly shifting
towards contractual and ad hoc forms
of employment, putting journalistic autonomy and editorial freedom at serious
risk. This has allowed for an uncontrolled incursion of purely commercial
considerations in determining media content, culminating in the rampant abuse
of “paid news” that is now a matter of growing public concern in India.
reiterates its belief that there can be no good and bad contracts in
journalism, since this form of short-term and highly insecure employment is
designed with intent to divide journalists, increase disparities in
compensation between different tiers of media workers and undermine possibilities
of collective action for a fair deal.
notes that a committee of the Indian Parliament which inquired into the
practice of “paid news” has recommended the strengthening of statutory
protections available under the country’s Working Journalists’ Act as an
essential antidote for this abuse of public trust.
will seek to find resources to conduct a baseline survey on wages and working
conditions of journalists in all partner countries, as part of the effort to
seek an all-round improvement. Aside from the journalists who are on statutory
wage scales and those who are contract, SAMSN notes with alarm that the number
of media practitioners working with not even the minimum security of a letter
of appointment has been increasing rapidly.
Afghanistan, journalists are denied wages for months together and contracts are
written to minimise opportunities and choice, as by stipulating a cooling off
period between six months and a year for journalists seeking to change jobs.
notes that its partner organisations in Nepal have had some success through
petititoning the Supreme Court, specifically in ending the denial of minimum
statutory wages and employment security for employees of state-owned media.
SAMSN observes that Nepal has clauses in its Working Journalists’ Act which
require a fund being set up for skills development of journalists. Though Nepal
has the best law on paper, its record of implementation is as poor as
extends its support to its partner, the Maldives Journalists’ Association (MJA)
in its effort to ensure passage of a working journalists’ act before the
current term of its national parliament expires.
in Sri Lanka are now engaged in a campaign to secure an upward revision of the
minimum wages prescribed for journalists. SAMSN fully endorses this campaign
and calls for necessary protections for the right to form unions and
associations, guaranteed under Sri Lankan law but often denied in reality.
observes with satisfaction that the prolonged campaign of obstruction of the
Seventh Wage Award for Pakistan’s journalists and newspaper workers has been
ended by authoritative rulings from the Supreme Court. This has come a decade
too late, at precisely the time that an Eighth Wage Award should be coming into
force. SAMSN urges Pakistan’s newly constituted Wage Board for Journalists and
Other Newspaper Employees to address all procedural issues and arrive at a final
determination without undue delay.
deeply concerned that the Majithia Wage Board’s award for journalists and other
newspaper workers, determined in December 2010, continues to be blocked by the
Indian newspaper industry, which has yet again petitioned the Supreme Court on
grounds that have repeatedly been held invalid.
two weeks of hearings on the matter in February 2013, the Supreme Court of
India in April, declined to issue a final judgment on the grounds that one
member of the two-judge bench that had heard the case, was soon to retire.
Hearings have since
commenced before a new bench. SAMSN urges the early disposal of the case in
line with established judicial precedent, followed by a serious effort by the
Indian government and all relevant state authorities to ensure its scrupulous
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