Holding Stake or Power: Stakeholder Participation in Nepal and Making of Media Policy Drafts (2012-2013)
Harsha Man Maharjan
This paper analyzes the notion of stakeholder participation in policy process by examining roles of various actors involved in the making of national media policy drafts. These actors include representatives of state machinery, donors and the media professionals. The standard discourse on participatory and collaborative policy process often finds no return for thinking about the complexity of policy process. To the contrary, the paper highlights the ambiguities of
the notion by demonstrating how various actors control the process and the outcome of the drafts policy making.
This paper provides an account of the preparation of drafts of Media Policy 2012‐2013 by Ministry of Information and Communications under a three years (December 2010 to October 2013) project funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) called ”The project for Promoting Peace Building and Democratization through the Capacity Development of the Media Sector in Nepal”. A team of experts came up with a draft of media policy for consultation with the “government agencies media personnel, civil society law makers, and other relevant parties through stakeholder meetings and discussions on the approval process of the working draft”, in a year. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Press Chautari, Broadcasting Association of Nepal (BAN), Press Union, Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (ACORAB), etc disowned this draft by arguing the policy process as undemocratic, unhealthy and non participatory. News reports and articles also portrayed the draft as ‘foreign made’. The cold response by these major actors compelled the ministry to form another committee consisting of journalists affiliated to these institutions. This was not originally envisaged by the project document. The new committee handed over a revised draft of the policy to the ministry of Information and Communications on 2 October 2013 for approval.
This paper uses policy documents and interviews with the concerned actors to argue that the practice of stakeholder participation is ambiguous and the line between stake holding and shareholding has blurred. It further argues that the media policy formulation in the post‐2006 has become uncertain due to the range of stakeholders’ interests that varies from getting their voices heard to actualizing their ideas into policy by controlling the very process to claiming ownership of the policies. This paper shows that the policy making landscape in Nepal has become contentious as the state has become increasingly fragmented and many non‐state actors have become stronger.