The Advertisement Bill that aims to implement a clean feed policy on foreign TV channels is in the best interest of the nation
Cable TV operators have violated the consumers’ right to information by blocking foreign TV channels for 24 hours from 3:00 pm Monday to 3:00 pm Tuesday. It is also a violation of the constitution that has guaranteed the transmission of informative messages through broadcast signals. The cable operators shut down the foreign TV channels in protest against the Advertisement Bill recently tabled in the Federal Parliament. The cable operators have claimed that the Bill, which aims to implement a “clean feed policy”, would bring to a halt foreign TV channels as they are aired along with foreign ads. A clean feed policy is an instrument that allows foreign channels to broadcast in the country without having foreign ads in their programmes. Around 200 foreign TV channels, mostly Indian, are available in Nepal, and all of them run foreign ads. Nepal Advertisement Association has, however, welcomed the Bill, which, it said, would help enhance the production capacity of the local ad agencies on the ad content of foreign goods.
Nepal’s total population is around 28 million, which is a huge market in itself for the ad business. Many foreign brand products are sold in the country, and foreign TV channels are the main source of their ads. Nepal’s annual ad market hovers at around Rs 12 billion, and it could further go up by at least Rs 2 billion if the clean feed policy comes into effect. Therefore, it is unlikely that producers of foreign brand products will skip this market by not producing their ad contents in the Nepali language as required by the Bill, which states that foreign TV channels will have to make their programmes either advertisement-free or transmit ads produced in Nepal using local content, characters and languages. This provision will not only help the local ad business to flourish, but will also help create jobs for the country’s artistes, who are struggling with the hand-to-mouth problem. This policy will also add one more feather in the cap of the country’s culture, language and natural landscape.
The clean feed policy is long overdue. The government had drafted a policy to this effect some three years ago. But it could not be implemented due to lack of adequate homework and absence of a law governing foreign ads and channels. This is not a new policy. The USA, European countries, South East Asian nations, Bangladesh and Bhutan, to name a few, have also introduced this policy, under which foreign channels that transmit foreign ads cannot charge any fee from the customers. Bhutan government has retained the right to distribute the foreign channels whereas Bangladesh has a legal provision that regulates the price on foreign pay-channels. Besides the domestic TV channels, the print and online media will also benefit from this policy because they will also be able to broadcast or print the advertisements of foreign brand goods, whose ads will be produced using the local language, content and characters. The cable TV operators must cooperate with the government on this issue as it is in the best interest of the nation. This provision will in no way discourage foreign channels from airing their programmes in the country. It only aims to regulate them under a law.
Make no noise
Noise pollution now adds to the many woes facing the Kathmandu Valley. Not that people were not aware about the nuisance, only that a report by the Environment Statistics of Nepal 2019 has highlighted just how bad it really is at different places most frequented by the people. High traffic areas in the Kathmandu Valley, commercial-cum-residence areas and industrial areas exceed the limits set by the World Health Organisation, which are 70 decibels (dB), 64 dB and 70 dB, respectively. Continuous exposure to noise of more than 90 dB can cause hearing loss and mental and physical disorders, such as sleep disturbance, hypertension and high blood pressure.
While noise pollution impacts everyone, it is particularly harmful for those who make a living in these areas and are exposed to high noise levels throughout the day, or even evening. Can something be done to curb noise pollution? The government’s prohibition on the honking of horns must have contributed whatever little in reducing the noise pollution. Planting trees will also absorb some of the noise. There are gadgets and noise absorbents to reduce noise pollution, but they are expensive. The best precaution is to stay away from noisy areas.
A version of this article appears in print on June 26, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.