Clean feed hailed as supporting economic growth, employment
By Modnath Dhakal
Kathmandu, June 26:The Federation of Nepal Cable Television Association (FNCTA) halted the broadcast of foreign television channels for 24 hours from Monday afternoon in a protest of the provision on the 'clean feed' in the Advertising Regulation Bill, 2075.
The cable operators that earned praise and huge support for their decision to black out Indian channels to protest the Indian blockade in 2015, have now deluded the consumers despite the latter's payment of the transmission fee.
It seems that the cable operators are the only media stakeholders in the country to stand against the 'clean feed' of foreign TV channel. The government, mass media channels, advertising agencies, cultural experts and consumer rights activists are all praise for the government move to introduce it.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoICT) Rishiram Tiwari said that the clean feed would be implemented effectively.
"We already had a policy on the clean feed, so it was the obligation of the government to address the issue through a new legal provision," he said.
He also said that the cable operators would be asked for clarification about shutting down the service and the Department of Information and Broadcast would determine the nature of punishment to them.
Consumer rights activist Madhav Timalsina said that the cable operators must be punished for their deed of punishing the consumers to get their own demands fulfilled.
Although it's been more than a decade since the 'clean feed' concept was in discussion and the government in the past had tried to implement it, TV sets in Nepali households are full of foreign, primarily, Indian advertisement.
The Advertising Regulation Bill, 2075 which is in the Parliament has a clause to force foreign TV channels to transmit clean feed in Nepal, and bar the broadcasting of dubbed foreign advertisement.
The Federation of Nepali Journalists has welcomed the government’s policy on clean feed.
Issue of national interest
This is an irony that Nepali TV viewers are forced to watch Indian advertisement even in the TV channels transmitted from the third country since the southern neighbour had implemented the clean feed policy long ago. Other South Asian countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have been also practising this policy.
But, the Indian broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had threatened to cut transmission of TV channels being aired in Nepal in July 2017 following the notice of the MoCIT to implement the 'clean feed policy' from 16 July 2017. But, the government backtracked form the decision to execute the decision with an excuse that the domestic television industry was not ready for the new move as it was being digitalised from the analogue technology.
Experts said that it’s only the cable operators who would be benefitted if the 'clean feed' is not implemented.
"I think the cable operators had exhibited their muscle power by cutting down the service. But, clean feed will benefit the media and advertising industry in the country immediately," said Nirmal Raj Poudel, former President of the Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN) and one of the proponents of the concepts in Nepal.
According to him, the advertising market will grow by at least 50 per cent, and it will create thousands of employment in the media, advertising and signage industry. There is no recent data about the size of Nepali domestic advertising market. The AAN about seven years ago concluded that the size of advertising market was 4.25 billion.
Poudel also said that the Indian
advertisement had negative impact on Nepali culture and social practices.
Lobby against the policy, a treason
Managing Director of the V-Chitra Advertising Harshawardhan Shahani writes in his Facebook post that the revenue of local media will grow by at least 50 to 80 per cent, and the government will benefit from more tax revenue as the entire commercial television market comes under its jurisdiction. The TV has just about 15-20 per cent share in total advertising business.
"Clean feed policy can set up the base for fair competition between products that are manufactured in Nepal against those imported. It will contribute in reducing the country's trade deficit," writes Shahani. "Therefore, the lobby against 'clean feed policy' should be considered as treason."
However, the FNCTA said that the shutting down the foreign channels was a symbolic protest against the clean feed policy.
It President Sudhir Parajuli said that it was not feasible to implement in Nepal due to the small market size. "The Indian broadcasters had also warned to interrupt the airing of TV channels in Nepal. If the consumers don't get their desired channel, they wouldn't pay the price," he said.
Provisions in the Advertising Regulation Bill
The Article 6 of the Bill of Advertising Regulation, 2075 has the following provisions:
1) Foreign television channels broadcast in Nepal must transmit clean feed from the government announced date as published in the Gazette. 2) Nepali television channels must not broadcast the dubbed foreign advertisement.
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