July 10, 2017
Nepal Army’s (NA) move to come up with its own FM stations drew wide opposition from civil rights bodies, who termed it ‘anti-democratic’.
The debate took its form as NA began a test transmission in Diyapal.
While NA’s move is intended at staying connected and updating public about their regular activities, the civil rights campaigners questioned as to ‘why does the Army need separate radio stations, when the government itself is not supposed to own a media, ideally.
Shiva Gaule, Head, Centre for Investigative Journalism opined that the Army’s move is doubting the integrity of state-licensed broadcasters. Security agencies running radio stations will create a crisis of confidence among the stakeholders, he added.
While the Information Ministry’s spokesperson, Ram Chandra Dhakal, argued that security agencies can also run FMs when the country’s police department is operating Metro FM to give traffic-related updates.
NA Spokesman Brig Gen Jhankar Bahadur Kadayat confirmed that the objective of radio stations is only to make the public aware of NA’s functions and activities, and not for any other purpose.
“The new plan is continuation of the old one to set up FM stations that are not profit-making. The Dipayal-based FM station has already started its test transmission, while others would go on air as soon as resources are managed,” Kadayat added.
The Army received permissions to operate their FM stations across provinces in 2016. NA had then stated that these stations will be used for dissemination of information related to disaster management, as it cannot approach private FM every time to disseminate information, says Information Ministry Spokesman Ram Chandra Dhakal.
Army’s old plan recommended setting up of five FM stations under each command division to control Maoist propaganda, which was later dropped due to protests and other reasons.