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Nepal: Foreign TV channels taken off-air for a day to protest new legislation

Binod Prasad Adhikari | Updated: Jun 24, 2019 22:54 IST

By Binod Prasad Adhikari
Kathmandu [Nepal], Jun 24 (ANI): Shoyeb Khan, a cricket enthusiast, missed watching the World Cup Cricket 2019 match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh on Monday owing to a channel blackout organized by the Nepali Cable operators as a mark of protest against a new legislation.
Despite repeated tries, the 20 years old cricket lover failed to tune in to the channel that aired the match between the two Indian Sub-continent nations.
"I am a very big cricket fan. I could not watch the game between Pakistan and Afghanistan because of the channel blackouts. The match was scheduled to start at 3:15 pm (local time) and because of the channel blackout, I could not watch it. No channels were on-air and I tried searching time and again," Shoyeb Khan told ANI.
Cable TV operators in Nepal shut down the broadcast of foreign channels for a day, as a mark of protest against Advertisement (Regulation) Bill proposed by the government. The 24-hour-long shutdown began at 3 pm on Monday. The protesting parties have said that the move was a dummy step taken to show what the protest could lead to if the legislation is implemented.
"We took this step to show the dummy effect of the legislation the government is trying to impose. This was the sample of how the televisions will look like if it is implemented," Internet and Digital Pay TV Co-ordination Committee said in a release.
About 85 per cent of the channels airing in Nepal are Foreign channels. The Protesting committee argues that the new legislature would set a limit to the choice of television channels available to the viewers, and thus affect the market competition. Furthermore, the regulation would result in joblessness, considering that an estimated 15,000 people in the country are employed in this sector.
"If (the legislation is) implemented, (the) cost of Digital Television Adapter (DTA), Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) services rendered by various companies would skyrocket. Ultimately the viewers would end up paying that high amount," the release added.
The Advertisement (Regulation) Bill has a mandatory provision that bars foreign channels from broadcasting advertisements. The former governments of Nepal had made attempts to bring this legislation but later stepped back following strong protests from the concerning parties.
Furthermore, the new regulations would require the foreign channels, including the Indian channels, to set up separate companies dedicated to serving Nepal. The bill is currently under discussion in Nepal's lower house. (ANI)

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