Monday, September 20, 2010

First Media Training in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Media Training. It sounds vague. Simply it is training on different aspects of media: advertisement, program production etc. What is about mass communication training ? It is vaguer than media training. In Nepal media training began as a mass communication training. This is what the existing documents show.
It was in 1960s-the time of Panchayat period, when the state banned political parties. The state was focusing on nation building and development. And mass communication training at that time was a step to develop media sector as a whole.
So, if there was a mass communication training, who were the organizers and participants ? Where do we get its information ? Whom should we meet ?
Well, we must thank Tek Bahadur Khatri for writing about mass media in Panchyat period. His book, Mass-Communication in Nepal, also contains a chapter on this training. And he get a lot of information from this book. According to this book UNESCO helped Nepal to organize a seminar-cum-training on Mass Communication in late 1960s. Actually Department of Information and Nepal National Commission for UNESCO co-organized this seminar in Kathmandu from December 1 to 29, 1967. According to Tek Bahadur Khatri, also a then deputy director of Department of Information and the director of the seminar, the seminar-training program had three objectives:
a) Attracting the attention of all circles to the importance of Mass Communication, in particular its role in the country’s social and economic development, and promoting the widest possible co-operation in the development of information media.
b) Contributing to the training of a substantial number of information personnel engaged in various spheres of Mass Communication, improving their professional approach and techniques and stimulating an open debate in which the present conditions and future possibilities of Mass Communication in Nepal would be analyzed and possible solutions to problems found, especially as regards the building-up of more effective, nation-wide machinery of developmental public relations;
c) Ensuring a fuller, more effective participation of information officers and journalists in the “Back to Village” National Campaign, launched on December 16, 1967, and in the overall national effort to intensify the participation of the people in the country’s social and economic development through the Panchayat system (Khatri 1976: 97).
So, we clearly see that the program had to objectives. One was to development mass media in Nepal, and second, to promote Panchayat ideology through these media. 31 journalists from all over Nepal and other people from government organizations participated in that program. The program continued for a month and it had four parts: communication and development, techniques and campaign, news and press, and the radio and audiovisuals. And each part lasted one week in the program. Besides 21 Nepali experts who gave talks and presented papers on different aspects of Nepali media and Nepali politics like its history, situation etc, there was an international trainers or experts. G.P. Roppa, Mass Communication Consultant. Roppa contributed talks on 12 subjects- communication process, approaches to developmental PR, news gathering, news construction, editorial work, broadcaster and programs, world press history, international news agency etc.
Roppa also prepared a report on the program and survey of Nepali media for UNESCO. This report which is available in UNESCO’s website, tells more about the atmosphere of the program. He had mentioned that participants showed reluctance in early days, and this reluctance gradually disappeared.
At the end of the program, the participants recommended government to prepare planning for communication and to organize regular training program which would be helpful in developing journalism in Nepal. This program must have pressed government to continue these kind of training in future.

Khatri, Tek Bahadur. 1976. Mass-Communication in Nepal. Kathmandu: Department of Information.
Roppa, G.M. 1968. Final Report on a Mass Communication Training and Fact-finding Mission to Nepal. Unpublished report, UNESCO.

Monday, April 19, 2010

History of Film Censor Board in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan

The Censor Board appeared in Nepal in the post-1950 period. But cinema had entered Nepal in the Rana period. Some examples prove that the Ranas used to irregularly screen cinema for the public. In 1949, the Rana government established a cinema, Kathmandu Cinema Hall, for regular screening of films in Kathmandu. There was no need for a censor board then because the screenings were under their supervision. Cinema technology was expensive, so it was beyond the people’s reach.

This scenario changed in the post-1950 Nepal. In three years, many new movie theaters – Prabha Hall, Moonlight Hall, Shree Hall, Chalchitra Hall, Bishwajyoti, Jai Nepal etc – came into existence. Demands for licenses for cinema halls might have urged the government to opt for a film censor board. So, one was formed in 1951. Accordingly, people had to submit films before screening them publicly or privately. The government charged Rs. 100 and confiscated films and projectors in case of violation. The rule contained eight points related to communal feelings, vulgarity, superstition etc. This board was under the home ministry and had the power not to certify films if it deemed so.

It was the state that made the first feature film, “Aama”, in Nepal around 1964. It was in the Panchayat period. Before this the censor board dealt only with foreign import. The scenario changed with “Maitighar”, made around 1966, the first feature from the private sector. Some 17 years later, the next film produced in Nepal by the private sector was “Juni.”

His Majesty’s Government of Nepal enforced the Motion Picture (Production, Exhibition and Distribution) Act 1969, which made provisions for the Film Censor Board. This act had four criteria for certifying or rejecting movies: “a) To permit the said motion picture to exhibit publicly without prescribing any conditions; b) To permit to exhibit publicly, subject to any alteration, modification or abiding by any other conditions and restrictions; c) To permit, prescribing the condition that the said motion picture shall be exhibited publicly for adults above the age of sixteen years; or d) Refuse to give permission to the motion picture for public exhibition.”

The Board could modify scenes of a cinema if it found that the film undermined “His Majesty the King or the royal family”, jeopardized “the security, peace and law and order of the Kingdom of Nepal”, harmed “the harmonious relations subsisting with foreign states, or peoples of various castes or tribes”, and which might “cause negative impact on public interests, or behavior or morality”, or defamed “any person or contempt of court or incitement to any offence.”

The Act even authorized the government to stop “a motion picture already permitted by the Film Censor Board for exhibition” if the government found it objectionable. Till 1971, the Board was under the Home Panchayat Ministry. The National Communication Services Plan 1971 proposed one representative each from the Home Panchayat Ministry and Royal Nepal Film Corporation to the Board. The Plan also instructed the Board to air royal proclamations before and in the middle of film screening in cinema hall, as well as to screen religious films regularly. The Plan also brought the Board under the Royal Nepal Film Corporation.

The Film (Production, Exhibition and Distribution) Rules, 2001, which formulated the act, had made provision for a seven-member board. They were the Joint Secretary and Under Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communication, representative of the Home Ministry, representative of the Culture, Tourism and Aviation Ministry, three citizens from the film sector, including one woman. It authorized two types of censor board in Nepal: central and local. The former was to be in Kathmandu, and local boards in every district.

The government amended this regulation on January 11, 2010. But the amendment was criticized for increasing the regime’s power of prior censorship. This amendment added a member from the Film Development Board to the Censor Board. It also made provisions for four categories of films for exhibiting – U, suitable for all; PG, needing parental guidance; S for special professions; and A for audience above 16 years of age. Before this, there were only two categories: U and A.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Searching Royal Nepal Film Corporation in Nepal Film Development Corporation

By Harsha Man Maharjan

These days I am writing the final draft of my research article on Royal Nepal Film Corporation. Panchayat government established this corporation to establish film industry in Nepal. The government wanted to attract private sector towards cinema at that time. And it did different activities for this. And we saw a boom in cinema from private media in late 1980s. Post 1990 government privatized it. And it is no more.
I know its infrastructures- building, lab etc-are in Nepal Film Development Company at Balaju Industrial area.
So I went there a couple of times. I interviewed Narayan Dhoj Pant and others. Pant worked at RNFC for a long time production officer. On 15 July 2009, I had a mission to find traces of Royal Nepal Film Corporation there. I went to studio room. I saw equipments there and all equipments had NFDC engraved in them. I went to Store rooms. Everywhere there was exposed film, light equipments. And still there was no trace of RNFC. Later Pant informed me that NFDC people have erased all remembrance of RNFC. But still there is one that no one can remove it. And that is the symbol of the corporation as show in the picture. I had to climb window to reach that place. When I reach the palace, the guard was watching me. I saw a peacock carved in wooden window above which there was the name: Shahi Nepal Chalcitra Sansthan (RNFC), beautifully carved.