Some 4,830 respondents in all seven provinces were surveyed by Sharecast Initiative in January and February this year to measure their ownership of communication devices, mass-media consumption patterns, and views on the press. The annual poll also tracks the popularity of radio and television channels and current trends in social-media engagement and internet user habits.
The survey shows a profound proliferation of news and entertainment portals and YouTube channels, with legacy media scrambling to play catch up. Surprisingly, listenership of Nepal’s rural FM radio stations has not decreased, staying at about 28%.
Nearly half the respondents said they relied on FM radio for local news, and interestingly, Facebook was the source of local news for 20% of them. Most people do not have a radio receiver at home anymore, and 90% listen to radio programs on their mobiles.
The total number watching television every day is much higher at 41%, and like with radio this figure has stayed constant for the past three years. Not surprisingly, the numbers watching television daily was twice as high in cities as in villages.
The number of people reading newspapers has actually increased from 6% in 2018 to 9.8% in the latest poll. More men than women read newspapers, and readers tend to live in the cities and belong to a higher income bracket. Sobering fact: 78% of Nepali women say they do not read newspapers at all.
Read also: Nepal’s new digital landscape, Sonia Awale
Despite the drift towards the internet, however, the proportion of people who say that they rely on traditional media for national and international news has increased slightly in the past three years. In 2018, 36%, 38% and 4% of respondents said they got their information from radio, television and newspapers/magazines respectively. By 2020, those figures were 45%, 47% and 8%.
Nepalis may follow social-media posts, but only 2% said they trust the information on them. The mainstream press is not seen as credible either, but the level of trust in radio, television and newspaper content is higher than the trust in social media. The reason most people said they do not read print newspapers and magazines is because these are not available in their localities.