The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, has condemned threats from the Nepalese government to shut down one of the largest network of radio stations in Nepal.
"For a country like Nepal, where most of the population gets its information from the radio, shutting down Nepal FM would be devastating," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.
"It would effectively cut-off people who are living in remote and inaccessible regions, leaving them uninformed and isolated," said the IFJ President.
"The ban on FM news broadcasting is bad enough, shutting down a radio station is yet another step away from a free and independent media, another freedom taken away from the Nepalese people," said Warren.
According to IFJ sources, the government has alleged Nepal FM breached its decreed ban on FM news broadcasting by airing news of the King's birthday on July 7 and including news content on a daily program which focuses on social issues.
Managing Director of Nepal FM, Bishnu Hari Dhakal, said the station had not broken any laws and a government decision to close the station would be illegal. The station has been given seven days to explain why its licence should not be revoked.
"This threat clearly ignores the Nepal Supreme Court's order to allow licensed broadcasting and violates Nepal's constitutional rights of information, opinion and free expression," said the IFJ President.
"It also highlights how impractical the news ban is. The government must immediately revoke the ban and reinstate the democratic rights it abandoned six months ago," said Warren.
In protest against the ban, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) is preparing a signature campaign to present in the upcoming UN General Assembly, and the Save Independent Radio Movement is organising street protests and a court action against the government's restrictions of free speech.
The protests will culminate on August 30 in a Global Day of Action for Press Freedom in Nepal, organised by the International Federation of Journalists.
Prior to the introduction of widespread media bans on February 1, Nepal had a vibrant and robust community radio sector. In a country where illiteracy is widespread, FM radio is estimated to reach 70% of the population - more than any other medium.
The IFJ participated in the International Advocacy Mission for Press Freedom in Nepal from July 10 to 16. Click here to read the full mission statement.
For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 (0) 411 757 668
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries