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Nepal blacks out Indian news channels except Doordarshan

Minister of Communication and Information Technology Yubaraj Khatiwada. File

Minister of Communication and Information Technology Yubaraj Khatiwada. File   | Photo Credit: AFP

‘Character assassination’ by foreign TV channels will not be tolerated’

Nepal will not allow foreign TV channels that indulge in the character assassination of its leaders and will seek legal remedies against such news outlets, a senior Minister of the government of Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli said on Thursday evening. The announcement was accompanied by simultaneous blacking out of all Indian news channels barring Doordarshan across Nepal.

“We do not want to interfere in affairs of the media. Not just foreign but even domestic TV channels will be regulated if they are found to be airing offensive content or are indulging in character assassination [of Nepalese citizens and leaders] and are found to be disrespectful of Nepal’s sovereignty. Nepal will also seek political and legal remedies against such channels,” said Minister of Communication and Information Technology Yubaraj Khatiwada, in response to a question regarding certain Indian channels airing objectionable content on Prime Minister Oli and the Ambassador of China Hou Yanqi.

Sources informed that Nepal's ambassador to India Nilambar Acharya complained to the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday regarding coverage of Nepal's leadership in certain Indian channels.

Soon after the minister's comments, prominent Indian news channels were blacked out as the Multi System Operators (MSOs) in Nepal decided to stop airing of all Indian news channels except Doordarshan.

Soon after the Minister’s comments, prominent Indian news channels were blacked out as Multi System Operators (MSOs) in Nepal decided to stop airing of all Indian news channels except Doordarshan.

Sources informed that Nepal’s Ambassador to India Nilambar Acharya had complained to the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday regarding coverage of Nepal’s leadership in certain Indian TV channels.

Apart from Mr. Khatiwada, several prominent Nepalese leaders also condemned Indian media outlets for airing comments that were offensive in nature. Prime Minister Oli’s top adviser Bishnu Rimal took to social media hours before the Minister’s remarks and referred to the personal attacks against Mr. Oli in certain Indian news outlets. He said: “The news stories and comments coming from the Indian media against the Government and Prime Minister of Nepal are highly objectionable thus condemnable. The malicious intent inherent in such reports will only damage the age-old friendly ties existing between our two countries and peoples.”

His remarks were echoed by Rajan Bhattarai, another adviser of Mr. Oli’s, who condemned the news reports and urged Indian media to “respect Nepali government and people’s unified position on Nepal’s sovereignty and national independence”.

Ambassador Hou has been active in Kathmandu’s political scene and is believed to have played a role in mending the differences between Mr. Oli and his rivals, especially former PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

Though major Indian news channels have been stopped from being aired in Nepal, the final shape of the policy is yet to become clear as more official statements are expected regarding this.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 7:34:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/character-assassination-by-foreign-tv-channels-will-not-be-tolerated-nepal/article32035531.ece

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