Nepal; Online video license a threat to freedom of expression

Nepal introduces online video license, priced at 500,000 rupees, threatening freedom of expression. Critics warn the cost will deter online communication, impacting journalists and the public.

Earlier this year, Nepal’s government passed amendments to the National Broadcasting Regulation to regulate online videos. The change was brought about after a rise in complaints filed over sensationalist YouTube videos deemed to be tarnishing the image of public figures and officials.

In these new amendments, any person wanting to post a video online must first purchase a license for 500,000 rupees, an equivalent of $3,900. These efforts by the government to regulate the digital sphere are raising flags with media and legal analysts.

If the minimum monthly wage for a journalist in Nepal, which has set limits for professions, is 25,000 rupees equivalent to $313, then, the new ruling will make communicating online — both for journalists and online users — prohibitively expensive, said the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

While speaking to VOA, Binod Dhungel, an independent journalist and correspondent for RSF in Nepal, said, ‘If implemented strictly, it will have a severe impact on freedom of expression, freelancers and [the] public’.