Mass media is regarded as a very powerful entity. It is ‘Voice of Voiceless’ and ‘Leg of a lame’. Thus, media plays a vital role in the development of a country. Studying about media has grown rapidly these days at it is very significant to us. To know about it, we need to learn to the root of it. The history of mass media in Nepal dates back centuries. For decades, there was a system of ‘Katuwal Karauney’ in Nepal for the sake of communication. Katuwal was the person who was responsible for the dissemination of the information throughout the villages and a nation. Also, pigeons, horses were used to transfer the information through letters in the previous era of Nepal. ‘Gaiyenes’ and ‘Gandharvas’ were said to be transferring the news through their songs from one part of the nation to the other. There were many traditional ways to communicate. But, with the pace of time mass media became more advanced and forward. The historical development of mass media can be eyed dividing the stages into five different parts:
Pre- Gorkhapatra Period ( Before 1901 A.D) Before the arrival of the printing press in Nepal, Late king Prithivi Narayan Shah had established postal systems and had used traditional ways of communicating effectively throughout the nation. But, the period which is after the arrival of the printing press is the modern history of Nepal. The modern history of mass media in Nepal starts with the coming of the printing press brought by Jung Bahadur Rana in 1851 A.D(1908) B.S. from Britain. This printing press was named ‘Giddhe Chhapakhana’ for the reason it contained the sign of an eagle in it. Since then, it gave way to the printing media of Nepal. After this press, the “Manoranjana” press was established. After 3years of its establishment, ‘Muluki Ain’ of Nepal was published. This was 1038 pages. The first magazine to get published in the Nepali language was ‘Gorkha Bharat Jiwan’ which was printed in Banaras of India. Meanwhile, the first magazine published in Nepal in the Nepali language was ‘Sudha Sagar’ in 1898 A.D which was printed by Pashupat Press. It’s not that only these two magazines were published during those periods, but then many magazines got published in the Nepali language for India. Similarly, other printing presses were ‘Jungi Lithography Press’, ‘ Chandra Prabha Press’, ‘Buddha Press’, ‘Narayan Press’ and ‘Pashupat Press’.
1901 – 1951 Due to strict Rana Rules, peoples were not allowed to publish newspapers. After the establishment of Dev Samsher’s policy, people were then allowed to publish newspapers. Gorkhapatra was first established in 1901, after the 2 years and 10 months of the publication of ‘Sudha Sagar’ in Nepal. In 2000 B.S Gorkhapatra was published twice a week. Chronologically, in 2003 B.S it got published thrice a week. The name of the editor of this newspaper was not legalised to publish by Rana Rulers till 1934 A.D. Aftermath, literary magazine ‘Sharada’ was published. In 1913 A.D telephone service was started. After producing 500-kilo watt electricity in 1911 A.D Nepal entered the era of the electric press.
1951 – 1961 (Democracy Period) The year 1951 A.D. was bad luck for the Ranarchy. Rana Rule ended in this era and gave way to the multi-party system which led the nation to Democracy. After the arrival of democracy in Nepal, ‘Awaj’, the first daily newspaper of Nepal got published. Some of the daily newspapers published during the democracy period are Samaj, Nepal Samachar, The Motherland, Dainik Samachar, Fillingo, Naya Samaj, Sahi Rasta, Diyalo, Kalpana, and commoner, Goretor, Prabakta and Everest News. The real development of mass media started in this period. Bilingual newspapers got their way in the history of mass media. In 20th Chaitra, 2007 B.S., the radio broadcast was formally established in this period. There were two agencies in this period, Samvad Samiti and Sagarmatha Samvad Samiti. His Majesty’s government contributed to the first press commission of 1956 A.D.
1961 – 1990 ( Panchayat Period) King Mahendra threw the multi-party system by being dissatisfied with the work of P.M. B.P Koirala of that time. Due to this autocratic rule had enveloped the nation. This period is also known as the darkest period in the field of Mass media in Nepal. Journalists were abducted, prohibited from their rights, killed and threatened. Thus, the Panchayat period became the barrier to the continuous development of Mass media in Nepal. So, we can divide this period into two parts: Pre – referendum and post-referendum, where referendum greatly influenced mass media by creating a gap between anti – panchayat and pro – panchayat journalists. However, there was some remarkable infrastructure development during this era. Gorkhapatra was made the daily newspaper in 1961 A.D. After that ‘Rising Nepal’ first newspaper in English got its position. Some magazines such as Madhuparka and Yuvamanch (both in Nepali), the Nepalese Perspective ( in English). The film industry of Nepal has a history with the Panchayat period. Documentary about the 42nd birthday of King Mahendra was created by Hira Singh Khatri who came from Bollywood of India. In the meantime, the first Nepali film was produced in India in 1950. The first film in the Nepali language was ‘Satya Harischandra’. Whilst, ‘Aama’ was the first feature film made in 1965 with Black and White colours. Later, Nepali films became colour in this period. In this period, a national news agency name ‘Rastriya Samvad Samiti’ was established in 1962 A.D. This agency was later renamed ‘Rastriya Samachar Samiti’. The other development activities that occurred in this period were multi-colour printing press got its way. On the other hand, the Ministry of Information and communication was established in 1971 A.D. Some of the remarkable corporations which helped in uplifting the mass media in Nepal such as Gorkhapatra Corporation, Royal Nepal Film Corporation, Nepal Telecommunication Corporation, Ratna Recording Corporation, Cultural Corporation, RSS, and Sajha Prakashan etc were all established in this panchayat period. The project to enter Satellite Communication with the collaboration of HMG, Nepal and the British Government happened in the year 1982. This helped in the telephone service, telex, fax and many more elements. National radio, Radio Nepal got the true shape of national broadcasting service during this period. The other stupendous result in the age of the Panchayat regime was that the television station got established. The Nepal Television was established in 2042 B.S formally. Although it was tough for journalists and mass media for the dissemination of information, Nepali journalism was divided as pro – Panchayat and anti – Panchayat. Many journalists were in the favour of democracy. Thus, the Panchayat system can be defined as an “era of struggle for press freedom and infrastructure development in Nepalese media.”
1990 Onwards (After Restoration of Democracy) The multiparty system was restored in this era which returned by the Democracy in Nepal. This has access effect on the development of mass media positively in Nepal. The establishment of the constitution secured the freedom of opinion and expression in 1990, along with guaranteeing the right to press and publication. Following, the right to information was formulated. This gave way to the rapid development of mass media in Nepal. The colourful broadsheet dailies, including Nepali and English language, were published. News magazines such as Himal, Nepal, Samaya etc emerged. The Kantipur publication was established with more than Rs 30 million. It published Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post in 2049 Falgun 7th which were the first broadsheet national dailies from the private sector. A new wave of FM broadcasting from the non-government and private sector is started. Some private channels are Channel Nepal, Image Metro, and Kantipur Television etc. In 2061 Bhadra Kantipur, Channel Nepal and Space-Time were vandalized by unknown groups of people, which can be taken as a black day in Nepalese media. The participation of women in Nepalese journalism is relative not so old. In the year 2008 B.S., after the publication of the monthly magazine “Mahila” women’s participation in Nepalese media was observed. Sadhana Pradhan and Kamakshya Devi were editors, for the magazine. Since then some women were seen as editors for weekly and monthly magazines. The restoration of democracy in 2006 has paved the way for the development of media in Nepal. Local FM radio stations had started airing the programs in local languages. Meanwhile, the study of journalism was included in the secondary education course as well as the higher secondary board offered education in Mass Communication and journalism in Nepal. We do have under graduation and graduate programmes in the field of Media Studies, Mass Communication and Journalism in various colleges and universities now. Thus, those were the eras of history in the development of mass media in Nepal. New technologies of the Internet and mobile phones are taking place in the market day by day. This indicates the progress of mass media in Nepal.