Tuesday, June 18, 2019

TV screens to go blank next week

Nepali TV screens will go blank next week due to cable operators’ protest against the government decision to implement the clean feed.
On June 24, cable operators will not broadcast any foreign pay channels that run advertisements for a whole day starting June 24, 12:00 am opposing the government’s proposed Advertisement (Regulation) Bill.
According to the proposed Bill, the foreign channels must relay television contents in Nepal without advertisements from the date of implementation of the rule, which, according to the cable operators, will throw them out of business.
However, the Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN) that has been lobbying for clean feed for last one decade, has welcomed the Bill, and urged the government to implement it immediately, unlike earlier attempts. This is not the first time, governments trying to implement clean feed rule asserting that the empty slots in foreign television content can be given to domestic advertisers, which will expand the domestic advertising market and the government will also get more revenue.
After a long debate, the Bill was tabled by Information and Communication Minister Gokul Prasad Baskota in January and is likely to be endorsed by the Lower House.
According to president of the federation of cable TV Association of Nepal Sudhir Parajuli, the authorities have not done proper research on how the rule can backfire. “The viewers will start subscribing to foreign channels through set-up boxes and viewing cards of Indian DTH operators, which are easily available in Kathmandu,” he said, claiming that the fate of Nepali channels, advertisers and even cable operators – once clean feed is implemented – will hang in uncertainty caused by the loss of customers and, ultimately, revenue.
Indian broadcasters – who feed most of the foreign channels to Nepal – must streamline the contents to make sure they run without adverts, which requires them to set up a separate company dedicated to serving Nepal. It will increase their cost as Nepal generates ‘very low average revenue per user’, which will make the Nepali service providers pay higher downlink – including subscription or broadcasting – costs, which will not be economically feasible.
He also said that the government will lose revenue from annual license fees it takes from all the channels – which are watched widely by the Nepali population – if the foreign channels stop.
Earlier in 2017 too, government tried to implement the clean feed rule under National Broadcasting Policy but the domestic service providers and Indian stakeholders, who used the diplomatic route to relay their objections.
After the pressure from different quarters, the government – that had announced in the budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 to implement clean feed – had to backtrack on its decision citing a lack of preparations.


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