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Nepal’s ad-free foreign channel proposal worries Indian broadcasters

The new stipulation could result in rampant piracy all over the country.

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MUMBAI: A bill proposed by Nepal which says that foreign broadcasters should be made to air their channels without advertisements has got Indian players worried, according to a Hindu Business Line report.

As per Nepalese media reports, the regulation has already been endorsed by the National Assembly (Upper House) and will next be tabled in the House of Representatives (Lower House). As many Indian channels are being aired in Nepal, concerns over technical and economic non-viability of the proposed norms were being made by broadcasters.

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) wrote to ministries of Information and Broadcasting and External Affairs stating that its members may be forced to switch off their channels in Nepal, which in turn could lead to rampant piracy of content. It further mentioned, “We would like to state that it is not commercially viable for our member broadcasters to have a separate clean feed (without ads) specific to Nepal. Additionally, the implementation of stipulations pertaining to clean feed may be counterproductive for various reasons.”

The IBF, whose members cater to 90 per cent of television viewership in India, said the launch of a clean feed will “inter-alia entail separate playout, uplink, and downlink costs”. “Nepal is an emerging market with very low average revenue per user (ARPU) and such exorbitant costs to create clean feeds are not justifiable from a business perspective,” it added.

It mentioned various piracy fears such as discontinuation of channels by Indian broadcasters which will result in rampant piracy all over the neighbouring country. Nepalese cable operators may resort to installing set-top boxes and viewing cards of Indian DTH operators.

IBF also pointed out that such piracy would lead to tax losses for both the Nepalese and Indian government. The Nepalese government may also miss out on the potential to earn annual licence fees for providing downlinking permission to each foreign channel.

The association further said consumers in Nepal may end up paying “exorbitant prices towards cable subscriptions to offset the cost of creating clean feed.”

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