Index 2024
74/ 180
Score : 60.52
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
95/ 180
Score : 57.89
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

After a decade of Maoist-led violence that ended a 240-year-old monarchy, the creation of a Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in 2008 marked a new milestone for press freedom in this landlocked Himalayan country of 30 million people.

Media landscape

The media landscape is abundant with more than 4,800 publications, 1,186 radio stations, 243 TV channels and more than 4,000 news sites. The government of Nepal is one of the largest media owners. It has direct control and appoints top editors, as is the case for the Nepali-language daily Gorkhapatra, and the English-language daily Rising Nepal, founded in 1901. The two national broadcasters, Radio Nepal and Nepal Television, are still owned by the government. The national news agency, Rashtriya Samachar Samiti, is the only one carrying government information. The leading private-sector media entity is Kantipur Media Group, a conglomerate whose activities extend well beyond the media sphere. Its dominance is challenged online by innovative news sites such as, and

Political context

The political climate has gradually become more accommodating for journalists since the advent of the republic, although Nepali society remains highly politicised. Each major political party has a mouthpiece via a trade union or a journalists’ organisation. The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) receives significant financial support from the public treasury. This results in conflicts of interest, especially in local media, where editors and owners are often political party members. Politicians and government officials often subject the media to baseless attacks with the aim of discrediting journalists as a whole.

Legal framework

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is one of the few countries in the world to proclaim “full freedom of the press” in the preamble to its constitution. This provision is expressed in several fundamental rights, including freedom of opinion and expression, the right to information and the right to privacy. Legislation is needed to create a press council independent of the government and to guarantee the editorial autonomy of state-owned media. Conversely, several penal code provisions adopted in August 2018 obstruct investigative journalism and restrict criticism of public figures. Some provinces, such as Bagmati and Mahesh, are leading the way on protecting journalists.

Economic context

Media outlets are supposed to pay their journalists a minimum wage set by the Working Journalists Act but, in practice, it is rarely paid. Low pay undermines journalists’ independence and respect for professional ethics, and drives many to abandon journalism.

Kickbacks in exchange for favourable coverage or for the concealment of undesirable information is commonplace. The government helps to fund the media with institutional advertising contracts, but this system tends to favor editorial bias, since the government gives preference is to media outlets that support its policies. Financial interests compromise editorial independence and encourage widespread self-censorship. 

Sociocultural context

Since the end of the civil war in 2006, press freedom in Nepal has benefitted from a socio-cultural tradition of debate. But some segments of society are clearly under-represented, and the media struggle to reflect social diversity. Only 25% of Nepali journalists are women. At the same time, entry into the profession is out of reach for the most marginalised members of society, a trend reinforced by the persistence of old caste structures from the Hindu tradition, which results in limited access to the media and media education. This is reflected in the content in the mainstream media, which tend to overlook issues involving marginalised sectors of the population, especially in rural and remote areas.


Coverage of police and local criminals’ activities is still off limits for journalists. Protection mechanisms exist, supported by the Press Council and the National Human Rights Commission. But they are unlikely to offer emergency solutions for reporters in danger. Cases of surveillance, threats and intimidation are legion, which pushes many journalists to self-censorship. More insidious pressure, such as fear of being discredited, can also persuade some reporters to avoid sensitive issues.