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Indian Channels May Suffer If Nepal House Approves Ad Bill

Nepalese citizens may soon be bombarded with anti-India content if a proposed law that aims to stop foreign advertisements of channels being distributed in the country comes into force and paving the way for backing out of Indian TV channels. The Indian broadcast sector is fearful that it might lose the Nepalaese television market, their content pirated and exploited commercially in Nepal if the law comes into force.

As per the proposed “Advertisement (Regulation) Bill”, the Communist government in Nepal wants no advertising on feed that is being beamed from a foreign country. The Bill has recently been passed by the Upper House and is likely to be introduced in the Lower House of the Nepalese Parliament after the Budget Session in June 2019.

Industry sources believe that Pakistan and China’s public service broadcasters would move in and take over the market because of the vacuum created with the non-availability of Indian channels. “Pakistani and Chinese public broadcasters may produce content and try to take over the market with content produced in Hindi and Urdu languages,” sources added. This could adversely affect Indian interests as these channels could telecast programmes that adversely affect our country’s interests, they added.

At present, Indian broadcasters enjoy complete domination over the Nepalese broadcast sector. Indian serials and films are popular and are followed by the general population. The proposed law isn’t only going to affect Indian commercial channels, but also Doordarshan, India’s public sector broadcaster, as its channels are distributed widely in Nepal.

The broadcasters have reportedly also briefed the Indian government and the Union information and broadcasting ministry regarding the pitfalls if the law is passed and Nepal decides to ban foreign channels with commercials on the feed being distributed in the country.

The request for an intervention by the ministry of external affairs and the embassy of India, Kathmandu, has also been sought by the Indian broadcasters, sources added.

Similar meetings have also been held with  the Ministry of Information & Communication (Nepal Government) regarding the concerns of the Indian broadcasters on the proposed “clean feed policy”.

The broadcasters also expressed reservations that their content could be pirated and inserted with unwanted and undesirable advertisement on their channels as they don’t have any control over pirated feeds by the local distributors in Nepal if the law comes into force.

During these meetings, it has been conveyed clearly conveyed to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu as well as to the Ministries of Information & Broadcasting and External Affairs about the technical and economic unviability and the regulatory challenges that foreign broadcasters would encounter in the face of implementation of Clean Feed Policy by the Government of Nepal.

“It is pertinent to note that a number of channels operating in Nepal are of Indian origin.  Further, consumers will be denied of quality content which they love to watch and follow, distribution platforms will denied of subscription revenue, the Government of Nepal will be impacted in terms of taxes in case of implementation of the said policy.  Most importantly, Indian TV channels will be pirated and exploited by forces inimical to Indian interests and that revenue could be used against India for anti-India activities,” the representation made by the indutry stated. ―Asian Age

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