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No obstacle to press freedom: Baskota
By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, June 22: Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota said on Friday that the government had no policy and intention to obstruct media freedom and undermine democracy in the country.
Furnishing reply in the House of Representatives on inter-ministerial budget discussion for next fiscal year 2019/20, Minister Baskota said that the government had had full respect to media freedom.
“Evaluate our history before making any comment for the government and the ruling party,” he added. The Minister viewed that the ruling party through different political movements had ensured media freedom to the people.
Minister Baskota threw a question back to the House asking that whether the media should be the messiah of freedom. “The government is not creating any obstacle to press freedom, there are enough internal and external factors to affect press freedom in the sector itself,” he said.
He denied that the government was trying to curb press freedom in the name of distributing public welfare advertisements and said there was no bias in providing such advertisements. He said that the media in the country was always free.
Before the minister could respond, the lawmakers had raised questions on the annual budget allocation for the ministry and blamed that the government had provided public welfare advertisements for their favourite media houses. Not only this, the lawmakers from the main opposition party accused the government of acting as a hunter of the media sector.
The minister shared that managing minimum wages in the media sector was a very tough ask. The implementation of the minimum wage provision must be guaranteed now, he said.
According to him, the government expanded 4G in 724 places with 98 per cent coverage, and it had a target to expand it in 738 places. “The 4G and 3G upgrading works are still going on,” he added.
He said that the Media Council Bill was not a means to impose communism, because the bill had included strong measurers for a strong press council with fair regulation.