Black front pages and dark screens feature in Mongolian media bill protest

By bne IntelliNews April 28, 2017

Black front pages and TV channels that went dark featured as a number of Mongolian broadcasters, newspapers and websites on April 27 joined in a protest against a bill they fear would lead to media censorship.

The bill has been proposed two months before the presidential election. Over a dozen TV stations went dark and seven newspapers blacked out their front pages to call attention to the proposed Law on Infringement. The legislation would allow police to bypass the courts and impose fines running up to approximately $40,000 for spreading defamatory information.

The measure comes as Mongolia prepares for the election in the midst of dissatisfaction with a government that is seen as trying to protect the interests of corrupt politicians. A number of anti-offshore account protest groups have formed in Mongolia since the Panama Papers identified the accounts of 49 Mongolian individuals and business entities, including accounts related to two former prime ministers, S Bayar and S Batbold; parliament member S Bayartsogt; and other government officials. The Mongolian authorities have responded by arresting anti-offshore campaign journalists and activists and confiscating their findings.

The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) has lately been throwing around accusations that the media is publishing false reports in order to create political divisions.

The MPP, which introduced the controversial bill into parliament, controls 65 of the 76 seats in parliament following its landslide election win in 2016.

President Tsakhia Elbegdorj is to end his final term on July 10.

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