The draft Press Freedom Law is being discussed by the Civil Chamber now. Twelve years have passed since Parliament approved the law which has two references. The main merit of the law, drafted by E.Bat-Uul, was that it freed news organizations from Government control. This way, they were no longer dependent on finance from the state and no longer needed to be the mouthpiece for the Government. Since then, the media have come a long way.
The present draft allows journalists to protect the secrecy of their source and also says police, prosecutors, and administrative organization cannot ask the publisher, journalist, editor, and the media union to reveal the source of any information, published or not. Also, no pictures and documents collected to be used for any article, including recordings, tapes and computer files, can be seized.
On the other hand, the draft also says there must be special procedures for journalists to get information about daily work in the government. Since officials give out only information that suits their interests, the new press freedom law may become unsuccessful. Thus, as a media organization, we propose to include a reference to create a mechanism which gives the necessary material and information to journalists without delay when requested. The official who does not give full or accurate information on purpose would be held culpable. This practice is followed in many countries.
The draft also proposes to establish an organization to regulate press ethics. Something like a Press Council, as it is called in many countries, is greatly needed in
A good example of what is wrong here can be seen in the Mongolian National Broadcasting TV and National Council. Even though the council consists of representatives of three sides and is financed with the money of tax payers, there have been several occasions when it deliberately provided wrong information and worked against the public interest. For example, after the July 1 incidents, the national broadcaster used socialist era methods to brainwash the people’s minds by giving false information on the issue. On the morning after the Presidential election, the national broadcaster did not give the election results because the candidate whom it had been supporting had failed to win.
There are groups within the media sector which have abandoned their right to freedom and opted to be paid publicists, working for certain officials and not for truth.