Foreign news channels, including those from India, may not receive permission to air in Nepal if they fail to produce advertisement-free content.
This is part of the “clean feed” policy for foreign TV networks that the government of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli began to activate on Monday.
The policy stems from the Advertisement (Regulation) Act-2019 endorsed by the Nepalese Parliament last winter and an official order was issued by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Nepal.
Foreign TV channels will have to air content without commercial advertisements or promotional materials and campaigns. The law aims at generating more advertisements for the local channels and help domestic media and advertisement industry. Violations will attract tough penalty.
International broadcasters that refuse to produce “clean feed” content are likely to lose viewers. It is understood that the policy, which will make telecasting of foreign channels more expensive, is aimed at giving greater control over them, especially those from India that are in Kathmandu’s focus because of the coverage of the Kalapani territorial dispute.
‘Not aimed at India’
Sources in Kathmandu insisted that the policy is not a reaction to the coverage by Indian TV channels as Nepal has been deliberating it since 2016 but the recent acrimonious exchanges on air between Nepalese and Indian commentators is also likely to have played a role in tightening the government’s control over foreign channels. Indian channels that are at present allowed to telecast into Nepal without interference will be asked to go “advertisement free” which is likely to expose them to a financial setback.
Nepalese viewers often prefer foreign news channels because of the better content, but in recent years there has been a spurt in media enterprise in the Himalayan country and the government of Mr. Oli feels that this policy will give them access to the much-needed advertisement revenue and talent.