Stand For Media, Not Media Tycoon


Parmeshwar Devkota

After the District Court of Dhanusha issued an arrest warrant against Kailash Sirohiya, the chairman of Kantipur Media Group, a police team from the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office arrested Sirohiya from his office in Thapathali on May 21. His detention created ripples across media houses as well as across big political parties. The members of parliament and senior leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC) Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party visited the head office of Kantipur Publication and raised voice in favour of Sirohiya and express their solidarity against the arrest on two grounds.

First, he is only one media tycoon of the country, so his personality should not be tarnished. Second, because he is one the biggest private media industrialists as well as a prominent journalist of the country, he should be immune to such minor mistakes as there is no damage or loss of public property. The background of the arrest is that Indrajit Mahato of Sarlahi had filed a complaint at the District Police Office Dhanusha on April 28 this year, accusing him that he holds multiple citizenships of this country. According the Citizenship Act, 2063, multiple citizenships is the violation of the law of the land and so punishable by law. 

Mahato alleges that his citizenship lacks exact date of birth, lacks signature in the record books, and that the documents mandatorily needed to obtain the citizenship are missing, among other allegations. If we consider the second point, we must be able to differentiate between a media industrialist and a journalist. To make things easy to understand, a media industry can be compared with a film industry, and a media industrialist with a producer of a film. But, journalists, photo journalists can be compared with a film production unit. And the chief editor is akin to the main hero in a film. 

Generally speaking, a journalist is a communicator. A person who has a zeal to collect and report events of human interest, news and other related things can be a journalist. One who is keen to work in the field of journalism has to register his/her name at the Department of Information and receive an identity card as a work permission. He must know dos and don’ts of the profession. If s/he runs afoul of the code of conduct or ethics mandated by the Press Council, s/he will be punished.  A media industrialist, on the other hand, has no such dos and don’ts.  An investor in the field of mass media, electronic media, or social media is the one driven by the goal of making a profit. There are separate provisions for the registration of the media industry and termination of license are provisioned in various offices. 

The media freedom and media industry freedom are entirely different things. The Constitution of Nepal, 2015, campaigns for media freedom, but not for media industry or media industrialist’s freedom. Therefore, the political parties should stand for unhindered dissemination of news, views and opinion in the media rather than standing for a media tycoon. The oldest political party of Nepal, Nepali Congress Party, which is also main opposition in the Federal House, has announced street protest from today, which it is entitled to. But if the NC defends Sirohiya as a media emancipator in the streets, it could boomerang on the party itself.   

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