UNESCO Message on World Radio Day “Radio and Diversity” 13 February 2020
This year, World Radio Day is being celebrated under the theme “Radio and Diversity”. Indeed, radio remains the most widely consumed information medium in Nepal, with the unique ability to reach out to the widest audience. Radio has the ability to shape a society’s diversity and stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard.
Nepali radio broadcasters have done a commendable job to ensure that correct and timely information is reaching the people living in the most remote areas, who often do not have access to newspapers, television or the Internet.
The media landscape is fast changing worldwide and in Nepal. It is essential to invest more to make the sector stronger, and also to counterbalance the present increased risks of the fast spread of disinformation and fake news.
A strong, free and independent media is the foundation for peace, democracy and development. It is necessary for people to be able to express themselves without fear.
The Constitution of Nepal guarantees fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression, right to communication, right to information and privacy. It gives guarantees against censorship and closure and interruption of media, including electronic and broadcast media. These basic rights in the spirit of the Constitution as well as Nepal’s international commitments will strengthen Nepal’s democracy.
On this World Radio Day, we appeal to the country’s decision makers and believe that Nepal will adopt all media-related policies to provide a conducive environment for media freedom. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by leaving no one behind, it is important to ensure diversity of ownership, participation, location and content of radio-based media in Nepal. This will catalyze the empowerment and development of marginalized people.
Nepal has a history of seven decades of radio journalism. More than 600 private, public and community radios are dedicated to serving their communities through the dissemination of information, education and entertainment. The first community radio in South Asia was established in Nepal in 1996 and the numbers have only increased. UNESCO has supported community radios since then, and in 2019, with the support of UNESCO, Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (ACORAB) formulated a set of recommendations on a media policy, which was presented to the government. They included endorsement of the universally agreed-upon definition of community broadcasting, allocation of frequencies, ensuring ownership and participation of community members in radio stations, establishment of an independent regulatory agency for media, and setting up an independent fund for the development of the broadcasting sector, all of which we hope will receive the government's highest consideration.
UNESCO echoes its commitments to support Nepal in promoting press freedom, safety of journalists, gender equality in media, freedom of expression and access to information for all.