KATHMANDU: The government today demoted Acting General Manager of Nepal Television (NTV) Deepak Mani Dhital for broadcasting live the mass meeting of 27 opposition parties in Khula Manch on June 8.
The Federation of Nepali Journalists took serious exception to the government’s move and termed it ‘undemocratic’ attack on press freedom and attempt to make the national channel the government’s ‘mouthpiece’.
NTV FNJ chapter Vice President Laxman Humagain said media workers would launch a movement if the government did not stop attacking press freedom.
According to Dhital, the government had instructed NTV to broadcast the UCPN-M press meet at hotel Gangjong after dissolution of the Constituent Assembly on May 28. The government again instructed NTV to broadcast the interaction organised by UCPN-M and United Democratic Madhesi Front on June 5 at hotel Yak and Yeti.
“Thinking that the national television channel should not be the government’s mouthpiece, NTV broadcast live the opposition parties’ mass meeting on June 8 despite pressure from government authorities. However, I had to face action for maintaining professionalism,” said Dhital.
On June 9, Secretary at Ministry of Information and Communications Abanindra Kumar Shrestha called Dhital and NTV news chief Rajendra Dev Acharya and took them to the Prime Minister’s office. The PM took their clarifications, told them there would be investigation and they would have to face action.
“I told the PM I take the responsibility. I did it because NTV is a national channel and it should give space to all forces,” Dhital said. Shrestha had phoned NTV authorities and told them to stop the live cast. After NTV continued, Chief Secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire ordered NTV to stop the programme. However, NTV authorities rejected the instruction saying that giving space to all political forces was their professional duty.