EDITORIAL: Enforce policy

Under the clean feed policy, foreign advertisement contents are barred in television programmes aired in Nepal

The government has once again backtracked from its earlier policy of implementing the “clean feed policy” for foreign television channels aired in Nepal. The government had planned to implement the clean feed policy from July 16. It is also unlikely that the government will roll out this policy any time in the future arguing that it did not have any regulatory mechanism in place and had not done enough homework to execute it. Under the clean feed policy, foreign advertisement contents are barred in television programmes aired in Nepal. Four months have passed since the government announced its policy but little has been done toward this goal. Although the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) had announced this policy the ministry officials now argue that they had yet to do the groundwork and create a regulatory body to implement the policy that will largely benefit the Nepali advertisement business and the media sector. The concerned officials also aired their fear that it will be difficult to implement it in a small advertisement market like Nepal for foreign channels which usually air advertisement contents made outside Nepal but earn money marketing in Nepal. Ram Chandra Dhakal, spokesperson at the MoIC, gave no specific reasons as to why the ministry stepped back from introducing the clean feed policy.

Under the clean feed policy, currently available channels in the country are required either to make their contents advertisement-free or air ads which are specially developed for Nepal using local contents, characters and languages. The policy envisages that the contents of foreign products should be developed within the territory of Nepal. Dhakal’s argument is that Nepal is a small market for foreign broadcasters and that it is not easy to convince them to develop separate advertisement feed for Nepal. If that is the case, one may raise a question: Why should they be allowed to air their programmes in the country if they find it difficult to prepare contents at the local level and why did the government not consider this aspect before rolling out this plan?

It is not that the government has folded up the plan. It is mulling over forming a separate Media Broadcasting Authority to regulate the domestic media and the entire television broadcasting. This authority will regulate the domestic media and clean feed policy. When the policy was unveiled the Advertising Association of Nepal had welcomed it saying that it would generate revenues for local advertisement agencies as well as the local artistes; help promote local languages and culture as well as the local media which are entirely dependent on the advertisement contents made for international consumers. However, the Cable Operators Federation of Nepal has opposed the plan arguing that majority of the foreign channels are Indian, and they will stopped airing programmes if the policy is implemented. Considering the size of population, literacy rate and people’s access to information and communications Nepal’s ad market cannot be called small. Nepal is also one of the markets where products of international brands are consumed. The government should not hesitate to execute the policy. However, enough homework must be done along with a regulatory framework and legal provisions before its execution.

Lung cancer

More than 30 patients are visiting Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital every month with lung cancer for treatment.  Last year alone 417 people were diagnosed with this disease. They were 275 males and 143 females. Cancer is caused mainly by smoking and also the inhalation of smoke from fossil fuel and dust particles. The number of people suffering from lung cancer is on the rise with the increase in the life expectancy. Every year November is observed as the Lung Cancer Awareness month to help raise awareness about this disease and its effect on health. That 30 per cent of those who contract the disease are passive smokers should ring the alarm bells. It is high time the ban on smoking in public places was strictly enforced. Doctors also advice to stop smoking and avoid dust and smoke.

It is also recommended that alternative sources, like electricity, be used for cooking purpose. If the disease is recognized early there are higher chances of successful treatment of the disease.  The symptoms that one could have lung cancer are coughing of blood or blood seen in the sputum.