Wit days to go before elections in Nepal the battle for votes is being fought over the air waves as radio stations, many backed by political parties, beam campaign messages to the farthest corners of the Himalayan nation. Social media may now dominate political campaigns in the West, but in Nepal, where fewer than one in five people has access to the internet, radio is king. Community radio exploded in the early 1990s as Nepal’s monarchy began to loosen its grip on power, liberalising the media and allowing popular elections for a new government. It grew with the mobile revolution as cheap handsets with built-in FM receivers became widely owned, allowing news to reach areas of the landlocked mountainous country where newspapers can take days to arrive.
Now the young republic of 29 million people has over 550 radio stations – nearly double the number of commercial FM stations in neighbouring India.
But some fear that a medium once seen as a beacon of democracy has become overly politicised.
The vast majority of stations – by some estimates as many as 90% – are now backed or owned outright by politicians or prominent supporters.
Full Article: Battle for hearts, minds and ears in Nepal election.