Parliamentary committee postpones implementation of Clean Feed PolicyPanel says service providers have paid huge sums which will go to waste if the policy is implemented immediately.
In a reversal of talk on immediate implementation of the Clean Feed Policy which bans screening of non-Nepali advertisements on foreign pay channels, the parliamentary Development and Technology Committee has paved the way for the existing service providers to air clean feed content only a year after the endorsement of the Advertisement Bill.
Committee officials say that the rationale behind including the provision of a grace period for clean feed implementation serves a practical purpose as the existing service providers have already paid huge sums to acquire downlinking rights to air foreign channels.
“The service providers have acquired licences to screen foreign channels by paying huge sums which would go to waste if the policy is implemented with immediate effect,” said Kalyani Khadka, chairperson of the committee. “But for new service providers, the rule will be enforced once the Act is endorsed.”
Once implemented, the Clean Feed Policy is expected to expand the domestic advertising industry. But the government has not been able to enforce the rule despite multiple attempts.
As per the Clean Feed Policy 2016, Nepali viewers pay Direct-to-Home satellite television service providers a monthly charge and are also exposed to foreign commercials which has shrunk the domestic advertising industry.
“Apart from a few exceptions, almost all foreign channels carry commercials made by multinationals and conglomerates for which Nepali viewers are paying monthly charges, while the domestic advertising industry is shrinking. Hence, the need for implementation of clean feed,” states the policy.
The government says the policy will increase employment opportunities, expand the domestic advertisement market and stop the outward flow of money by eliminating the costs of subscribing to many foreign channels.
In June, after the announcement that the government was mulling to implement clean feed immediately, television channel providers showed their displeasure by not airing foreign pay channels for 24 hours, depriving viewers of their favorite television content.
Now the service providers say that if the state wants to go for clean feed, they will abide by the law; but the decision has come without much homework on the negative impact of clean feed.
According to Sudhir Parajuli, president of the Federation of Cable TV Association of Nepal, the costs of downlinking (broadcasting) foreign channels free of adverts would be much higher than the existing rate as the channels would have to streamline their content to particularly serve Nepali viewers.
“Implementation of the Clean Feed Policy requires foreign broadcasters to set up separate facilities aimed at trimming commercials and relaying the channels to Nepal,” said Parajuli. “But if the channels do not invest in such infrastructure, the television sets will run without many channels which would translate into loss of revenue.”
Also, if the bill is enacted as it is, domestic media will not be allowed to download foreign advertisements for broadcasting purposes.
The committee has also incorporated provisions related to a new mode of distributing government advertisements, both commercial and social, under which government bodies will not be allowed to approach the media for publishing adverts directly.
Once implemented, the act would require government entities to publish or air adverts through the proposed Advertisement Board which will serve as a one-window institution for broadcasting government adverts.