MoIC remains indecisive in implementing ‘clean feed’ policy

Kathmandu, November 27

After stepping back from its earlier plan to implement ‘clean feed’ policy for foreign channels in Nepal from July 16, the government is unlikely to enforce such provision any time soon.

Citing lack of preparedness and strong regulatory provisions, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) had earlier deferred its plan to implement clean feed — a policy that bars foreign advertisement contents in television programmes being aired in Nepal.

While more than four months have passed, the government is learnt to have done not much to implement such provision in the near future.

“The government had to step back from implementing clean feed policy following lack of enough groundwork and regulatory provisions. Implementing clean feed policy in a small advertisement market like Nepal for foreign television channels is quite difficult,” said Ram Chandra Dhakal, spokesperson for MoIC, adding that no progress has been made so at the government level regarding implementation of clean feed.

As per Dhakal, enough groundwork at the technical and policy level is necessary to make clean feed implementation feasible in Nepal.

Under the clean feed provision, currently available channels will have to either make their contents advertisement-free or air advertisements which are developed especially for Nepal using local contents, characters and language. Moreover, such advertisements should also be developed within the territory of Nepal.

Nepal is a small market for foreign broadcasters and it is not easy to convince them to develop separate advertisement feed for Nepal, according to Dhakal.

However, MoIC plans to implement the clean feed on television channels in the country in the long-run. As per Dhakal, MoIC is gearing up to form a separate Media Broadcasting Authority in a bid to regulate domestic media and the entire television broadcasting.

Such authority will not only regulate domestic media and broadcasting but will also take the primary responsibility of digitising the country. “Implementing clean feed will be one of the many responsibilities of the yet-to-be-formed authority,” said Dhakal.

Meanwhile, domestic advertisers — the major benefactors of the clean feed — have been criticising the government for its failure in implementing clean feed in the country.

“Clean feed will not only ensure growth of country’s advertisement sector but will also contribute to promotion of Nepali culture and lifestyle worldwide,” claimed Santosh Shrestha, president of Advertising Association of Nepal, and urged the government not to linger its implementation any longer.

But at the same time, cable service providers are against the abrupt implementation of clean feed citing that its implementation will force cable operators out of business.

As per Cable Operators Federation of Nepal (COFN), more than 90 per cent of around 200 television channels available for subscription in Nepal are Indian channels that broadcast foreign advertisements.

“Abrupt implementation of clean feed means that broadcasting of majority of Indian channels will have to be stopped, thereby directly affecting Nepali viewers,” said Sudhir Parajuli, president of COFN.