In 1990 Nepal underwent a political change that marked the beginning of the state’s transition from an autocratic Panchayat system to a multi-party democracy. The period since has seen major changes in the media sector mainly due to an adherence to freedom of press, one of the underpinning principles of a democracy. The Nepali government as introduced several policies related to the burgeoning media sector as an indication of the changing dynamics of the sector and its role in an emerging democracy.
This paper examines three specific media policies introduced in Nepal since 1990. The nature of the policy outputs and the entailing agendas has been indicative of the expansion of the media policymaking domain. The agendas set out to address various factors such as the privatisation of media, the degree and level of participation of stakeholders in the policy process, the relationship between the media and the state and the nature of regulation suitable for a sector as dynamic as media.
The purpose of this study is to assess how media policies were formulated and implemented in Nepal during its transition to a democracy. The paper specifically analyses the media policies of 1992, 2002 and the media policy of 2013 which is still in its draft stage. These policies try to address the media sector and its diversity in regards to type, reach and diversity. However, the paper suggests that despite the positive policy outputs, the entire policy making process, including improved stakeholder participation and completion of the policy cycle is yet to be fully realized. By critically assessing Nepal’s media policy processes this paper puts forth the problems and challenges that exist in the policymaking domain. The issues noted and discussed affect the entire policy cycle and the paper highlights them by relying on invaluable information collected from some of the key stakeholders involved in the media sector and in the policymaking mechanism in Nepal. The paper offers suggestions to improve the formulation, design and implementation of media policies by highlighting the disconnect that exists between the various stakeholders and the involved agencies. It goes on to make recommendations that should be considered if the policymaking domain in the media sector is to undergo a complete structural and procedural change as suggested in the paper.