Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mass Media Making Deep Inroads into Nepalese Life

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

One of my little booklets titled "The  Press in Nepal: Problems and Political Orientation" consisting of 20 pages was published in 1987 in Kathmandu as part of one of the pre-requisite articles for my Ph D thesis in journalism.

On page 11 of that booklet it says: "In the system of mass media, Nepal can be ranked at the infant or initial stage of development comparing to that of advanced countries. This ranking comes as no wonder when one considers that in a country of 16 million population, the literacy rate is 29 percent and the average per capita annual income for Nepal has been estimated as US $140.00, being one of the lowest in the world. For a livelihood, 80 percent of the population still depends on primitive agricultural tools and equipment."

My booklet further went on to say: "Radio Nepal is the only radio broadcasting enterprise in the country. Nepal Television which was borne couple of years ago is serving the people of Kathmandu few hours daily with extreme difficulties. Not to talk of a TV set, to have an ordinary radio set is also considered to be a source of luxury and prestige in this country on the eve of the end of the twentieth century. The newspapers are mainly confined to Kathmandu and some other urban areas."

The government-owned Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal were the only broadsheet daily newspapers in Nepali and English. But a lot of water have flowed under the bridge of river Karnali and Nepal has seen a sea of change in the field of mass media. Media scenario of the nation started to change after the restoration of democracy in 1990.The vital statistics about Nepal have changed so far  accordingly. If Nepal's population has reached over 27 million people, its literacy rate now is 57.5 percent and per capita income of the Nepalese people currently is US $ 662.00.  And today the mass media as well as the social media are making deep inroads into the lives of the Nepalese people.

Today, there are over 400 FM radio stations all over Nepal and the number of TV stations has reached almost two dozens, many of them operating 24 hours. Even here in the US, the White Himal TV channel has been  in operation for last several years and airing programs 24 hours a day in Nepali language.

And there are more than 100 daily newspapers in Nepal today. The number of broadsheet daily newspapers is more than 12, four broadsheets are published in English. The new wave underscores the evolving nature of global communication technology.

In fact, it is not only about Nepal. Technology, globalization and Internet are fast changing the lifestyle and perspectives of the people across the world. The world has seen unprecedented revolution in the field of information and communication technology which has  brought about positive changes and progress in social as well as economic fields. As a result, the world today has turned into a real small global village.

However, over the last several years, the majority of the private sector television channels and FM stations have been embroiled in a financial limbo and as a result the journalists and reporters working for these TV stations and FMs have not been paid their salaries in time.

Therefore, one of the bigger issues causing tremendous concern for the journalists and reporters in Nepal is the lower wages and salaries.

Nevertheless, the important factor that stands in the way of enforcing the much-awaited new constitution is the great role of Nepalese mass media in Nepal's turbulent political landscape. It is to be noted that Nepal was plunged into political turmoil for about a decade, thanks to parochial and partisan attitudes of the Nepalese political stalwarts.

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