Kathmandu, May 10 -- A new Media Council bill, which aims to give sweeping powers to the self-regulatory body overseeing the press, has raised alarm as information rights activists and journalists say the new council could increase direct attacks on the press.

The bill, which aims to replace the existing Press Council Act and was registered on Thursday, will have more authority to issue hefty fines and give the government more say in the hiring and firing of the council members.

Dilip Thapa Magar, the vice president of Federation of Nepali Journalists, says increasing the government's role in council member recommendation process could jeopardize free press.

"Newsroom critical of the government might end up in trouble more frequently i...