Context- 60 years of RSS: Three former communications ministers stress on enhancing country’s only news agency

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Former information and communications ministers have stressed on the need of the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), the only official news agency of the country, to play additional significant role in the present context.

The former ministers shared their views in the context of the RSS’ entering the diamond jubilee year from this February 19.

Describing RSS as the common property of all Nepalis, they have suggested augmenting its important role remaining autonomous and neutral and disseminating balanced and objective news. The former information and communications ministers also suggested the RSS to provide true and timely news to its subscribers and the masses by using the new technology so as to keep intact its credibility that RSS has been collecting and disseminating true and authentic news based on facts since its establishment till date.

Pradip Kumar Nepal, who was the Minister for Information and Communications in the government led by then Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikari from 30 November 1994 to 12 September 1995, opined that the RSS’ responsibility has increased more at present in the changed context.

“I feel that RSS has not been able to internalize its increased role. The RSS management should give appropriate environment to and make its bureaus and reporters technology-friendly. It should disseminate through its subscribers balanced and factual news that create positive feelings. The institution should carry out works towards becoming self-reliant,” he said.

RSS was established on February 18, 1962 with the merger of two news agencies in existence at that time and run from the private sector – Nepal Sambad Samiti and Sagarmatha Sambad Samiti. It has been disseminating news collected from its provincial offices in all the seven provinces, its district offices and the stringers in all the districts to the masses through its subscribers.

RSS has been providing investigative news, news features, audio clips and photos to the print, radio, television and online media.

The name, RSS, itself speaks of its responsibility
Similarly, former Communications Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet has expressed the view that it would be easier to all to make their own view if RSS could disseminate balanced and factual news at a time when political instability has increased due to dissolution of House of Representatives as there is a thinking among the general people that the news and information disseminated by RSS is authentic, balanced and related to government’s statement.

Suggesting the RSS to disseminate news so that all Nepalis could feel a sense of ownership, he said RSS should not only give the news of government and opposition parties but also the news of public interest in order to safeguard its prestigious position from its establishment in the world of mass media, as news as RSS is the common property of all. Former Minister Basnet said, “In recent period, it is seen that attempts have been made to control things except disseminating only good works of the government. If it is true, it should be stopped.”

He said that no action was taken against anyone even writing the news against the government at a time when he was the communications minister.

He added, “The very name Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) is adequate for highlighting its importance. It has the body, structure and capacity to collect news and information from the nook and corners and the length and breadth of the country. There is an impression among the people that RSS can disseminate all types of news whether it is national or international in systematic and reliable way. People have thought that how the news and information given by government could be wrong, but the trust towards this organisation will be decreased if there is intervention of the government.”

Former Minister Basnet opined that RSS could not face the 21st century’s demand and challenges along with internet and high technology if it does not pay attention on modern technology by updating, modernizing and revising the news collection, processing and dissemination processes.

Records show that RSS correspondents have abundantly produced human-interest stories and write-ups from nook and corners.

The news disseminated by the RSS is considered to be impartial, fact-based, and credible, and it has been a good source of news not only for print media, radio and television but also for online news portals.

The major task of the news agency is to gather information and provide it to other media houses.

RSS’ relevancy has further increased
Former Minister for Information and Communications Jay Prakash Gupta sees the relevancy of RSS has increased as a time-tested and professional media in the present context. Its relevancy has further increased.

The RSS has been disseminating free, fair, impartial and objective news. ”But sometimes it may face pressure from the government and at such moments it should realise the public interest and sentiments, and continue to deliver the accurate news in a balanced and objective way.”

The former Minister has sympathy for the RSS for its compulsion to give its physical infrastructure built for own use on rent to cope up with financial constraint.

”I did my best (in my capacity as the minister) in the past for the holistic development of the RSS and was always aware that it should not be obstructed to function as a professional and independent entity,” he said, stressing that the State should invest for equipping it with technology.

People have much hope and trust on RSS and it is for imparting information to the masses, and strengthening and further developing it should be the special priority of the state.

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