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
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”.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
has in the past upheld the need to build up the autonomy of media institutions
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.
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”.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
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