South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) Bulletin for the month of August 2013

To SAMSN members and friends,

Welcome to the e-bulletin

of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) for the month of August 2013.

The next bulletin will be sent on September

15, 2013, and inputs are most welcome. We encourage contributions to let

others know what you are doing; to seek solidarity and support from other SAMSN

members; and to find out what others are doing in the region.

To contribute, email: ifj@ifj-asia.org

SAMSN is a group of

journalists’ trade unions, press freedom organisations and journalists in South

Asia that have agreed to work together to support freedom of expression and

association in the region. SAMSN was formed at a meeting of these groups in

Kathmandu, Nepal, in September 2004. The group agreed to stand in solidarity

and work together for media reform, for an independent pluralist media and to

build public respect for the work of journalists in the region.

For further information on

SAMSN, visit: www.ifj-asia.org/page/samsn.html

Please distribute this

bulletin widely among colleagues in the media.

In this bulletin:

1.     Debate on cross-media

ownership rules in India

2.     Raise in foreign

investment ceiling contemplated in Indian media

3.     Hearings on wage

board for India’s journalists to resume in Supreme Court

4.     Code of ethics for

Sri Lanka media held in abeyance

5.     Journalism

excellence awards presented in Sri Lanka

6.     Journalists

covering protests in Sri Lanka attacked by army units

7.     Mahmudur Rahman

remanded; Adilur Rahman arrested in Bangladesh

8.     Bangladesh blogger

released, rearrested

9.     Competition

watchdog to investigate TV ratings agency in India

10.  Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi denied bail

11.  Applications invited for Thomson Foundation-Foreign

Press Association awards

12.  Press Council of India indicts state government for

press freedom violations

13.  Indian journalist, Tongam Rina wins press freedom

award

14.  Afghan newspaper harassed, journalist convicted on

libel charges

15.  Proposals of Pakistan media commission discussed

16.  SAMSN annual meeting held in Kathmandu, action

plans adopted

DETAILED REPORTS

FOLLOW:

1.     Debate on

cross-media ownership rules in India

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of

India (TRAI) acting on a mandate from India’s Ministry of Information and

Broadcasting (MIB) is continuing with broad-ranging consultations on possible

restrictions on cross-media ownership. SAMSN partner, the Delhi Union of

Journalists, submitted a response to an initial consultation paper circulated

by TRAI. Media owners have subsequently joined the discussion and opposed the

introduction of any such norms. Further information at: http://www.trai.gov.in/ConsultationDescription.aspx?CONSULT_ID=675&qid=0 and http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-calls-for-broad-union-participation-in-evolution-of-ownership-rules-for-indian-media.

2.     Raise in foreign

investment ceiling contemplated in Indian media

The Union Government in India has mooted a proposal to raise

the foreign investment ceiling in the equity of media companies to 49 per cent

from the current 25 per cent. A formal notification issued by the Government in

July however, left out the media industry from liberalised rules for foreign

investment in a number of other sectors. Divided counsels within the industry

and security worries expressed by the Union Home Ministry were believed to be

behind this. However, a meeting of the Indian newspaper industry’s principal

national level lobby – the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) – later endorsed the

proposal with only two members in dissent. Broadcasters are also believed to

favour the raising of foreign investment caps. Further details at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/divided-industry-propriety-of-process-slow-fdi-in-media-proposal/article4905861.ece and http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ins-okays-49-per-cent-fdi-in-print-media/1149467/.

3.     Hearings on wage

board for India’s journalists to resume in Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in India has posted all matters related to the latest

Wage Board award for journalists and non-journalists, for final hearings

following September 10. Hearings will begin before a new bench following the

failure of an earlier bench which heard the matter through February, to deliver

a final ruling because of the retirement of one member-judge. Further details

at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/final-hearing-by-new-bench-in-wage-board-case-on-sept-10/article4996774.ece.

4.     Code of ethics for

Sri Lanka media held in abeyance

Following protests by the Free Media Movement and the Sri

Lanka Journalists’ Association, and by various international media freedom

bodies, the Sri Lankan government has decided to keep its proposal to introduce

a new media code of ethics in abeyance. The Sri Lankan president, after a

meeting with senior editors, has reportedly instructed the Information Ministry

to leave the matter in the hands of the journalists’ bodies which would be free

to consider elements of the government draft. Further information at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jbEprDJhi8Xk2HIp7N_FK_kEo3-Q?docId=CNG.67d2181a80db59a06b597e7ba3f1856e.8d1.

5.     Journalism

excellence awards presented in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Press Institute and the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka

jointly organised the annual excellence in journalism awards function on July

30. These awards, which were instituted in 1999, are now regarded as Sri

Lanka's most prestigious annual event recognising journalistic excellence.

Among those awarded was Seetha Ranjanee, senior journalist and press freedom

activist, who was honoured with the Sepala Gunasena Award for Press Freedom. Seetha

Ranjanee has been associated with IFJ's affiliate in Sri Lanka, the Free Media

Movement (FMM). She has served several terms in the key positions of Convenor

and Secretary of the FMM. At the moment she is a member of the executive

committee of the FMM, as well as the Sri Lanka Journalists' Association,

another affiliate of the IFJ. Further details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/fmm-activist-seetha-ranjanee-awarded-for-press-freedom-work and http://colombogazette.com/2013/07/31/journalism-awards-for-excellence/.

6.     Journalists

covering protests in Sri Lanka attacked by army units

SAMSN partners have joined the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Sri

Lanka Journalists’ Association (SLJA) in strongly condemning an army crackdown

on peaceful protests near the western town of Weliweriya which resulted in the

death of three protesters and injuries to no fewer than fifteen journalists.

SAMSN partners report that military units deployed to contain protests by

residents of a village near Weliweriya town in western Sri Lanka on August 1,

against the contamination of drinking water in the area, used indiscriminate

force and specially targeted journalists covering the events. Journalists were

warned against taking photographs and videographing the protests. Further

details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalists-harassed-and-attacked-as-army-cracks-down-on-peaceful-protesters.  

7.     Mahmudur Rahman

remanded; Adilur Rahman arrested in Bangladesh

Mahmudur Rahman, editor of the Bangladesh newspaper Amar Desh has been remanded to further police custody in a case

registered against him in February. Rahman, a critic of the current government,

was arrested on April 11 on complaints of incitement to violence filed

following Amar Desh’s coverage of

ongoing youth protests over Bangladesh’s war crimes trials. Charges are yet to

be laid against him on any of the complaints that have been registered. Meanwhile,

Adilur Rahman, a prominent human rights defender associated with the campaign

and advocacy group Odhikar, has been arrested under clauses of the Information

and Communication Technology Act, for allegedly publishing exaggerated figures

of casualties caused by a police crackdown on Islamic protests on the night of

May 6. Adilur Rahman has been vocal in his defence of Mahmudur Rahman’s case. Further

details at: http://bdinn.com/news/mahmudur-rahman-back-in-jail-after-remand/; http://tazakhobor.com/politics/5014-mahmudur-rahman-on-3-day-remand-again and http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/bangladesh-arrest-human-rights-defender-sends-chilling-message-2013-08-12.  

8.     Bangladesh blogger

released, rearrested

Bangladesh youth activist and blogger Asif Mohiuddin was rearrested

following the expiry of his one-month bail on July 29. A court in Dhaka held

that there were no grounds for extending his bail and fixed August 25 for

framing of charges against him and three other youth activists who remain free

on bail -- Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Russel Parvez and Mashiur Rahman Biplob – in

a case brought against them for causing offence to religious sentiments. Further

details at: http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/blogger-asif-sent-to-jail/.

9.     Competition

watchdog to investigate TV ratings agency in India

Following disagreements, a number of broadcasters pulled out of India’s

only television ratings process run by the TAM Media in July and the

anti-monopoly watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI) announced plans

to investigate TAM Media for possible monopolistic behaviour. Following a deal

between broadcasters and TAM Media that the reporting format would be revied to

provide monthly aggregates of audience, rather than weekly ratings, the CCI

investigation appears to have lost momentum. Further details at: http://www.indiantelevision.com/headlines/y2k13/aug/aug69.php.

10.  Journalist Lingaram Kodopi and co-accused Soni Sori

denied bail

Lingaram Kodopi, a journalist from an indigenous (adivasi) community in Central India was denied bail at a hearing of

the High Court in the state of Chhattisgarh on July 7. Kodopi along with his

aunt Soni Sori, is an accused in a case of acting as a courier in a financial

transaction involving the banned Maoist insurgents in the state and a major

mining conglomerate, Essar Ltd. Kodopi has been acquitted in two other cases

brought against him and Sori in five. Soni Sori’s husband died early in August

and she was denied permission to attend his funeral. Further details at: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=7dc34c00b8101d17704011d1a&id=cd796b4e27&e=f0f139b610.   

11.  Applications invited for Thomson Foundation-Foreign

Press Association awards

The Thomson Foundation in association with the U.K. Foreign Press

Association, has invited applications for the “Young Journalist” award, open to

all media professionals who will be under the age of thirty as of 19 November

2013. The competition is open to all journalists from developing countries

defined per the World Bank. Deadline for submissions is 18 September 2013.

Further details at: http://www.thomsonfoundation.org/young-journalist-award.

12.  Press Council of India indicts state government for

press freedom violations

The Press Council of India has adopted a report indicting the government

in the eastern Indian state of Bihar for serious violations of press freedom.

The report was prepared by a three-member fact-finding team of the council and

has found the state government guilty of pressuring the press to downplay

issues such as corruption, ignoring the opposition and favouring the

establishment in news coverage. The council has called for an independent

agency to oversee the allocation of government advertisements and observed that

the press in the state depends mainly on this source of revenue since

commercial ads were in short supply in the backward state. Further details at: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/pci-adopts-report-indicting-nitish-govt-over-press-freedom-113072300711_1.html.

13.  Indian journalist, Tongam Rina wins press freedom

award

Tongam Rina, a journalist from the north-eastern Indian state of

Arunachal Pradesh, has been awarded the "Prize for the Freedom and Future

of the Media - 2013" instituted by Media Foundation, Leipzig, Germany.

While working as associate editor of the Arunachal

Times, Rina was attacked in July 2012 near her office and suffered serious

bullet injuries. She recovered only after months of intensive medical

treatment. Further details at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-14/guwahati/40568881_1_tongam-rina-arunachal-press-club-leipzig and http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-attempted-murder-of-indian-journalist.

14.  Afghan newspaper harassed, journalist convicted on

libel charges

Police authorities in Afghanistan have been accused on harassing the

staff and owners of a Kabul-based daily newspaper, Mandegar. A reporter with the newspaper was arrested on July 5 and its

editor was sentenced to thirty months in prison after hearings on a libel case

which he was not aware of. The libel action was initiated by the head of the

official anti-corruption ombudsman. Further details at: http://www.voanews.com/content/rights-group-afghanistan-violating-freedom-in-crackdown-on-newspaper/1700134.html.

15.  Proposals of Pakistan media commission discussed

Editors and other media professionals, including legal experts, have

welcomed the recommendations of a Media Commission appointed by the Pakistan

Supreme Court, which has suggested major changes in the regulatory framework

for the media in the country. The commission has recommended that the

sixty-eight laws which currently govern the functioning of the media should be

reviewed over six months and suitably amended. State owned broadcasters, it has

suggested, should be converted into independent entities. The report also

includes certain recommendations on financial transparency in media enterprises

and the statutory application of a code of ethics. Further details at: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\07\28\story_28-7-2013_pg7_7.

16.  SAMSN annual meeting held in Kathmandu, action

plans adopted

SAMSN held its annual meeting in Kathmandu between July 21 and 23. The

meeting was supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung of Germany and adopted a

number of action plans in aras of concern such as fair wages and working

conditions, safety, ethics and gender fairness. Further details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalists-at-south-asia-meet-reaffirm-commitment-to-press-freedom-and-social-justice and http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalists-at-south-asia-meet-call-for-a-new-deal-on-wages-and-working-conditions.

IFJ Asia-Pacific

http://asiapacific.ifj.org
ifj@ifj-asia.org

SAMSN Members:


Afghan Independent Journalists' Association, Afghanistan

Bangladesh Journalists' Rights Forum (BJRF), Bangladesh

Dhaka Reporters' Unity, Bangladesh

All India Newspapers Employees' Federation (AINEF), India

Indian Journalists' Union (IJU), India

National Union of Journalists India (NUJI), India

Maldives Journalists Association

Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Nepal

National Union of Journalists Nepal (NUJN), Nepal

Nepal Press Union (NPU), Nepal

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan

Pakistan Press Foundation, Pakistan

Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), Sri Lanka

Federation of Media Employees' Trade Unions (FMETU), Sri Lanka

Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka 

Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF: Human Rights Journalists

Forum of Bangladesh)

Media Watch, Bangladesh