Media fraternity fears government’s bid to control advertisements

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Jan 4, 2019-

The Ministry of Information and Communication is set to table a new bill at Parliament soon with the purpose of regulating the country’s advertisement sector. The media fraternity fears that the proposed bill, with some regressive provisions, is intended at stemming the free flow of advertisements considered backbone of the Nepali media industry.

The use of words like “regulation” and “management” in the bill raises suspicion over the government intent, people familiar with the advertisement sceptical .

Several media stakeholders including Advertising Association (AAN) of Nepal were invited for consultation during the drafting process but its final content was not shared to the any stakeholders making sceptical to the proposed bill.

Expressing serious reservations over the new draft bill, AAN last July submitted a 15-point to the Ministry of Information and Communication. The ministry has not called the umbrella organisation of the Nepali advertisement sector for any meetings since.

The new bill has envisioned an advertisement board that will work as a regulatory body to formulate a policy on advertisement contents. The proposed board will hold the authority to distribute advertisements from various government agencies to the private and state-owned media.

“The language and content of the proposed bill suggests that the government intent is to promote government advertisements to the state-owned media,” said AAN General Secretary Raju Kuinkel.

Earlier, the Ministry of Information and Communication had issued a circular to all the government agencies, instructing them to give priority to the state-owned media while distributing advertisements.  AAN has expressed reservations over composition of the advertisement board, content of advertisements as mentioned in the bill, which says that advertisements should not be misleading or exaggeration while urging to be careful in choice of words in preparing them.

“We have put several elements related to the advertisement sector like what kind of advertisement should be featured and what not, issues on hoarding boards, regulation of the advertisement at central, provincial and local levels. We have prepared a list explaining the dos and don’ts while preparing advertisements, including their language and content,” said Rishi Ram Tiwari, spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Communication.

Objecting to formation of advertisement board, media fraternities have also called on the ministry to involve AAN, Media Society and other media related bodies.

The proposed bill stated that professionals with experience in the media or advertisement sectors will be given responsibility to run the board. “Our concern is that if government will work on its own way, the entire advertisement circle will be in serious jeopardy. We are not in favour of any kind of monopoly that is detrimental to the advertisement sector,” said Kuinkel.

AAN has a serious dispute with the government over “clean field” advertisement policy after the government introduced the “down linked” facilities. The government’s recent attempt to stop advertisements of liquor in any medium has also created an outrage. The government suspended the move after talks with the prime minister.

“We have urged the government to regulate the advertisement on social media like Facebok. We have lost millions in revenue, but no one is ready to listen us,” Kuinkel said.

Published: 04-01-2019 08:05

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