Nepal

Information on the media environment, news gathering and everyday practical tips for journalists intending to work in Nepal.

Media environment

Nepal’s media suffered severely under the decade-long Maoist rebellion against the constitutional monarchy which ended in November 2006. During the bloody civil war reporters were attacked by both sides.

After the overthrow of King Gyanendra a number of restrictive media ordinances enacted by the royal government were annulled. However, even now the ruling Maoists have an ambiguous relationship with the media and concerns have been raised about communal violence in the south which has resulted in some journalists fleeing the area.

Obstructions to press freedom also come from more surprising quarters, In March journalists covering the crash of a helicopter being used by the United Nations Mission in Nepal were prevented from photographing the scene and had their tapes and cameras seized by UNMIN officials.

Copyright law is specific to Nepal, which has not signed the International Berne Convention.

Some 60 daily newspapers are published, and about four times that many weeklies. Most media are based in the Kathmandu Valley and largely ignore issues affecting the 85 percent of Nepalese living in rural districts. The literacy rate in any case is extremely low (27.5 percent).

The government-owned Gorkhapatra, the country’s oldest surviving newspaper, publishes mostly speeches and official announcements in an arcane version of Nepalese that often defeats even local readers. The English-language daily The Rising Nepal, (www.gorkhapatra.org.np/risingnepal.php) published by the government-run Gorkhapatra Corporation and aimed at tourists and expats, carries similar content. The Kathmandu Post (www.kantipuronline.com/ktmpost.php) is a private English-language daily and the Nepali Times (www.nepalitimes.com.np) an English-language weekly.

Private broadcast media have flourished in recent years, with the state-run Nepal Television Corporation (NTV) (www.nepaltelevision.com.np) joined by private stations Kantipur TV, Image Channel TV, Channel Nepal and Avenues TV.

The government-owned Radio Nepal, which operates national and regional services, shares the airwaves with  Radio Sagarmatha, a public community FM station and a number of commercial stations.

National News Agency (RSS) (www.rss.com.np) is the country’s official news agency.

News gathering

Following the restoration of democracy it was discovered that many journalists and media organisations had received money from the royal government to report in its favour. This inheritance of bought loyalties presents a barrier to the development of true press freedom.

Obstructions to press freedom in Nepal can come from more surprising quarters. In March journalists covering the crash of a helicopter being used by the United Nations Mission in Nepal were prevented from photographing the scene and had their tapes and cameras seized by UNMIN officials.

Practical tips

  • Demonstrations and strikes (bandhs) often begin without notice and can cause major disruptions to traffic. Political rallies have resulted in violence and bombings and should be avoided.

  • Shortages of food, water and fuel can occur with little warning and media should be monitored for information about likely disruption.

Contributor: Vaughan Yarwood
Latest update September 2008

Last updated: 13 Jun 2013