Kathmandu, November 15
The Advertisement (Regulation) Act-2019, which was passed by both the houses of the Parliament after amendment to some controversial provisions, is more liberal than the original bill.
It was published in the Nepal Gazette on October 25. The act has repealed provision of handing down jail sentence to anyone who committed an offence deemed punishable by the law. The original bill had drawn flak from all quarters as it stipulated provision of imprisonment from three to five years or fine not exceeding Rs 500,000 or both, for an offence of publishing, broadcasting and displaying advertisements prohibited by the law.
The act now has provision of imposing fine ranging from Rs 100,000 to Rs 5,00,000 to anyone who publishes/broadcasts or causes to publish/broadcast advertisement in contravention of this law. “No editor of media shall be punished for publication or broadcast of advertisement in breach of law simply by virtue of such reason. However, if the editor is also the owner of the media, nothing in this law shall prevent the authorities concerned from punishing him or her,” reads Section 25 of the act.
The act is aimed at regulating advertisement to be published or broadcast for market promotion, sale and publicity of goods and services. It prohibits advertisements related to goods banned by prevalent laws, gambling and lottery, obscene or indecent materials, arms and ammunition and prescription drugs.
Advertisements which may disturb national sovereignty, territorial integrity and cordial relations among federal agencies; defame Nepal’s national flag and national anthem, national figures and coat of arms; instigate sedition, defamation, crime and contempt of court; encourage gender discrimination and untouchability; use trade mark, and patent, design and other industrial property without approval or permission from concerned owner, shall not be published or broadcast.
“No one shall be allowed to display hoarding board if it causes adverse impact on the aesthetic value of historical sites, and obstructs mobility of people,” it states. The act also prohibits display of hoarding boards on the utility poles. It requires concerned advertiser to obtain permission from local level to disseminate advertisement through hoarding boards at public places.
The law also stipulates a provision of clean feed policy for foreign television channels in Nepal. This policy bars TV channels from broadcasting foreign advertisements, both in recorded and live feeds. It will come into effect within a year from the date of the commencement of this act.
According to the act, anyone may disseminate advertisement of any goods or services with quality or features thereof to promote them and help consumers make right choice under the prevailing law. The act empowers local level to declare certain area of religious, cultural or archaeological importance, and educational or health institutions as ‘no advertisement area’.
“No one shall circulate message to mobile phones or email advertisement of any goods or services without consent of the concerned persons. However, the federal government, provincial governments or local levels may circulate message of public service announcements or message of early warning through mobile phones or emails at the time of disaster,” the act states.
The act stipulates a provision of an eight-member advertisement board led by a person appointed by the government to carry out functions related to regulation of advertisements. Advertisements to be published or broadcast on various media in the provincial and local levels shall be regulated by the concerned governments.