Radio: Most influential Media in Nepal
(This article was contributed by Asmita Manandhar)
History of Nepali Mass media
The history of development of modern mass media in Nepal is not that old but the traditional means of mass Media in Nepal started since the period of Prithivi Narayan Shah which are classified into traditional means of mass media. Modern forms of mass media begun in Nepal when Janga Bahadur Rana, the then Rana Prime minister brought a printing press while returning from his England trip which was named ‘Giddhe Chapakhana’. Though there were other magazines and newspapers published in Nepali language, the publication of ‘Gorkhapatra’ in 1901 A.D. proved to be a milestone for modern Nepali mass media. The publication of Gorkhapatra is also significant because it took the form of organization and hence published other newspapers and magazines under ‘The Gorkhapatra Organization’. The first radio in Nepal was ‘Prajatantra Radio’ which was established by then revolutionary forces in 1946 A.D. however the formal establishment of Radio broadcast was done in 2007 B.S. by the state. Then Nepal witnessed many developments in the field of mass media with the beginning of film medium, the installation of satellite earth station, establishment of television in 1985 A.D. and so forth. Though these developments are remarkable and rapidly developing, due to centralization these developments has not yet reached the rural parts of Nepal and a large percent of Nepali are unaware of these developments. Among these various forms of mass media, radio is successful in covering more of the parts of Nepal and hence proved to be more effective. Radio in Nepal Being one of the least developed countries in the world and also after facing chronic political instability, the development in all fields including media has not been that good. The infrastructures in the country are very poor and till today people from the rural, un- reached areas are compelled to be away from their right to information and mass media are mainly focused on urban areas. Historically, radio has been the most prevalent form of mass communication in Nepal. Government-owned ‘Radio Nepal’ has been the sole domestic radio provider since 1951, and by 1995 it was broadcasting in short-wave, medium-wave, and FM frequencies. Private operators can lease the FM channel. There are more than 50 FM radio stations in Nepal. These can be divided into three different categories as listed below. 1. Community FM 2. Cooperative FM 3. Commercial FM There are many community radio stations in Nepal that are run by volunteers, out of which most of them are outside of Kathmandu. The programming of community radios deals with community information on a range of social issues such as health and the environment. Unlike community and cooperative stations, Commercial FM radio stations are run for the purpose of making profit. Since they are profit oriented, they tend to concentrate on entertainment programming which draws big audiences. The most popular program genres include: talk shows, popular music, quiz shows and talkback. Some of the popular commercial FMs in Nepal are: Kantipur FM, HBC FM, Hits FM, Radio City, Times FM, K.A.T.H FM, Synergy FM, Annapurna FM, Pokhara FM, etc. Radio as mass medium has great scope in Nepal. It could be helpful in overcoming Nepal’s geo-physical hazards. It can play a vital role for long distance dissemination of information. Radio medium could be more effective in arising development consciousness among the people. It can stand for the educational, socio-economic as well as cultural advancement of Nepal. Its scope for distance learning and Open University is unlimited, which is yet to explore. Local radios can influence the communities in greater extent. For instance, Radio Palung broadcasts the price of vegetables in local market, any discussion programs for women conducting there as well as the process to fertilize the soil and also gives information about the seasonal foods that is favorable for planting in Palung. “The efficiency of radio is very powerful, now the people in Palung are more aware of their society and environment and in addition they now know the use of the radio and using it fully”, says Bishnu Dhakal, one of the founder Radio Palung. This example helps us to identify the use of Radio in different parts of the country. Also, the radio programs are being conducted in various languages like Newari, Maithili, Tamang, Bhojpuri, Magar, Tharu, Awadi, Gurung, etc which has helped in reaching the maximum number of listeners of different caste and ethnic background.