Media development in Nepal since 1990: challenges and central role of regulation and reform

Rijal, N 2014, Media development in Nepal since 1990: challenges and central role of regulation and reform, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Media development in Nepal since 1990: challenges and central role of regulation and reform
Author(s) Rijal, N
Year 2014
Abstract This thesis is an exploration of the development of media in Nepal from 1990 when Nepal emerged from decades of autocracy and liberal constitutional and legal provisions facilitated increased citizens’ participation in media and politics, the strengthening of civil society, and an emphasis on identities. However, growing political polarization, bad governance, a decade of conflict, and an unresolved peace process have made the transition to democracy complex and protracted. The central argument is that media reform is a complicated task when a State is unstable and unable to effectively provide the basic functions related to order, security and rule of law. In the absence of adequate public policy, there is likelihood that the media becomes subject to political and commercial manipulation. Media development suffers in such a scenario as the development of media markets cannot keep pace with the growth in the number of media outlets coming into business. In Nepal, such growth results from political and commercial influence. The ease of access, benefits of proximity to power, opportunity for image cleansing and immunity from prosecution, provide a safe space for investment. As a result, such expansion does not necessarily translate to pluralism, especially when the regulatory environment is weak. Hence, the focus of this thesis is on how the rapid expansion of the media, the media regulatory environment and the various challenges associated with the transition in Nepal have affected media development and their role. This thesis draws on qualitative data collected through 44 in-depth semi-structured interviews and one group interview conducted in Nepal in 2011 and 2012. It also draws on a review of 30 articles on the media published between 2010 and 2013 and from 2 regional media managers’ workshops in 2011. An inductive approach to analysis is taken within a grounded theory methodology. The thesis examines and critiques theories related to the critical political economy of the media and those related to diversity, pluralism, democracy and public good. The thesis explores how, since 1990, various factors have contributed to a rapid expansion of the media in Nepal and the particular characteristics of media diversity and pluralism that have emerged. It exhibits a rather complex relationship between media diversity and pluralism demonstrated by the range of views that either herald the expansion of the media as being in the interest of media plurality or criticize it for engendering chaos and cacophony. Arguments on each side either perceive the expansion as promoting more social, cultural and political views and opinions, or contributing to their growing polarization. The situation of the media policy framework and reform has been assessed to understand regulatory provisions for investment and ownership, and how these affect media development. This thesis points to the need for public policy that promotes the practice of local, indigenous and endogenous media production for strengthening small and unorganized media markets. Public policy might also ensure the decentralization of resources for the media, the absence of which can very easily lead to local media being co-opted by centralized media networks.

Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Keyword(s) democracy
media policy
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Created: Fri, 31 Oct 2014, 13:39:03 EST by Denise Paciocco
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