The Minimum Wages Fixation Committee today served a three-month ultimatum to Kathmandu Valley-based television stations to stick to minimum salary fixed for working journalists, provide them appointment letters compulsorily and pay their monthly salary on time. It warned that any television station failing to comply with the ultimatum will face legal action.
Khem Bhandari, MWFC president, said, “We have given three months to television stations, which are yet to implement MWFC’s early directives, to provide appointment letters to all working journalists, fix Rs 10,008 as the minimum monthly salary, and make salary payments every month. We will take stern action against television stations that do not comply with the minimum wage provision and other requirements.” MWFC had fixed minimum wage for working journalists four years ago, but many media houses are yet to abide by this provision.
In 2011, the Ministry of Information and Communications, on the recommendation of MWFC, had approved Rs 10,008 as minimum monthly pay for journalists working in national level media houses, including all TV stations. Bhandari warned MWFC will recommend the Department of Information to revoke government-given incentives — public service announcements and press accreditation cards — if TV stations concerned do not correct themselves within three months. “Ultimately, they will be deemed ineligible for renewal of their operating licences,” he warned.
In a monitoring report made public recently, MWFC has painted a dismal picture of journalists working with television stations. A five-member team under Yasaoda Timsina had prepared the report after monitoring 15 valley-based television stations. They include Avenues Television, Channel Nepal, Image TV, Mountain TV, Nepal Mandal TV, Nepal Television, Nepal1 TV, News24 TV, Sagarmatha TV, Tarai TV, TV Filmy, Kantipur TV, ABC TV, Arniko TV and Himalaya TV.
The monitoring team had found most of the television stations flouting the minimum wage provision, appointment letter provision and timely salary payment provision. It had held separate interactions with the management, working journalists and employees of concerned television stations to establish the truth.
According to the MWFC report, management of Avenues TV itself conceded that it had yet to provide salary to working journalists for the past three months. It had pledged to make payment as soon as possible. No different is the situation in other TV stations, including Channel Nepal, Image, Mountain TV and Nepal Mandal TV. “We encourage journalists working in any national level media house and television station to lodge a complaint with MWFC to help us initiate action against their staff for violation of minimum wage and other provisions,” Bhandari said.
Obligations and action
• TV stations will have to provide appointment letters to all working journalists within the deadline
• They should fix Rs 10,008 as minimum monthly salary
• Stations should make salary payments every month
• Those failing to comply with these provisions will face legal action
• In the long run, stations failing to abide by these provisions will have their licences revoked – THT