Tensions Between India’s Embassy And Local Media In Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins

its affiliates and partners in Nepal

in calling upon the Indian embassy in Kathmandu

to clear the air with the Nepali media, after an alarming surge in mutual

accusations.

 

The recent

exchanges reportedly began with the Indian embassy issuing a press release on

August 27, speaking of “certain print and television media” that had been

reporting “against products manufactured by Indian Joint Ventures in Nepal”. The statement

went on to allege media outlets had attempted to extort the Indian “joint

venture” companies, saying they had “informed the embassy that they have been

approached by such media houses for release of advertisements and are being

threatened with negative publicity if those requests are not met”.

 

The Indian

embassy upheld the commitment of the Indian companies to the highest quality

standards and warned that their persecution by the media would have grave

repercussions for investment decisions in Nepal, according to the statement.

 

A storm of

protest has followed, with journalists’ unions, media organisations and the

Nepal Press Council all denouncing the Indian embassy for breaching diplomatic

propriety and acting in gross disrespect of the freedom and autonomy of the

Nepali media.

 

The

Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ affiliate, has termed the

embassy statement as “unfit and improper” and vowed to undertake a “detailed

study” of the entire incident.

 

Also

joining issue with the Indian mission were the Television Broadcasters’ Nepal, the

Nepal Media Society, the Broadcasting Association of Nepal and the Association

of Community Radio Broadcasters.

 

The Indian

mission responded by pointing out that the organisations would carry more

credibility if they were also attentive to unethical practices that flourish

within the media.

 

According

to a thorough media investigation of the incident and its background, friction

between the Indian mission in Kathmandu and Nepal’s largest media group,

Kantipur Publications, began early this year after a number of reports in the

group’s two main publications – Kantipur in Nepali and the Annapurna

Post in English – led to a determination by the Indian embassy that the

newspaper group was adversely disposed towards Indian interests.

 

While the

IFJ does not judge how well-founded this determination was, it is concerned

that the Indian mission in Kathmandu may have reacted without due respect for

media freedom, in inducing Indian companies operating in Nepal to withdraw their

advertisements from the identified media group.

 

The IFJ,

with the support of its Indian affiliates, has earlier

pointed out that in following up this action with a questionable decision

to hold up a shipment of newsprint imported by the Kantipur group at Kolkata

port, the Indian mission and other official agencies were guilty of grossly

obstructing media freedom and putting the livelihood of Nepali journalists at

risk.

 

The IFJ

has in the past upheld the need to build up the autonomy of media institutions

in Nepal

as part of the historic political transition under way in the country.

 

“The IFJ urges

all parties involved in the ongoing verbal exchanges to submit the entire range

of issues to the adjudication of the Nepal Press Council,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“This

course of action would help build up institutional capacity of Nepal’s

media and establish precedents that could guide future decisions on matters of

ethical practice and professional conduct”.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

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on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific