Although the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act, 2075 BS prohibits foreign investment in Nepali media, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday inaugurated two foreign-invested satellite televisions ‘Astha Nepal’ and ‘Patanjali Nepal’ at the Nepal office of Patanjali Yogpeeth in Budhanilkantha Municipality-8, Mandikhatar.
Reportedly, these two channels inaugurated by PM Deuba are not even registered with the concerned bodies. The National Broadcasting Act 2049 BS, National Broadcasting Rules 2052 BS and Broadcasting Directive 2060 BS provide that radio and television channels should be operated only after registering with the Department of Information and Broadcasting.
However, ‘Patanjali Nepal’ as well as ‘Astha Nepal’ are not registered with the Broadcasting Department. “We have not even received an application for the channels’ registration,” said Gogan Bahadur Hamal, Director General of the Department.
“We have formed a committee to study whether or not the television channels have started broadcasting in Nepal. If the broadcast has already started, action will be taken as per the law of the land,” said Hamal.
It is said that Indian multinational company Patanjali has invested in these televisions. Acharya Balkrishna and yoga guru Ramdev have investments in Patanjali. The Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act lists ‘business of mass media (newspaper, radio, television and online news) and film business of national language’ in the list of industries or businesses where foreign investment is not allowed.
During the inauguration, Prime Minister Deuba also promised to provide land to Patanjali.
Prime Minister Deuba was accompanied by Home Minister Bal Krishna Khan, CPN-Maoist Center Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN-Unified Socialist Chairperson Madhav Kumar Nepal at the inauguration program.
Critics say that these television channels, which are supposed to produce programs related to spirituality and Ayurveda, work purely for commercial purposes.