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Nepal Government allows Indian channels to resume broadcast

13-June-2005
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Nepal Government allows Indian channels to resume broadcast

Nepal's royal government has allowed Indian television news channels to resume broadcast, over five months after they were shut down. The Kantipur newspaper said the decision to allow Indian news channels to resume broadcasting was taken by the Cabinet.

Indian officials had requested the channels be allowed to broadcast during a meeting between Nepal's King Gyanendra and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Indonesia in April.

No formal reason had been given for the shutdown but some have blamed the channels for exaggerated news reports says the Associated Press. However, at that time in Februray the army had initially maintained that it had given no directives about discontinuing the broadcast of Indian news channels.

Indian news channels had been off in Nepal since February 6 though the country had resumed its telecommunication links with the world a day earlier.

The Hindi news channel Aaj Tak, highly popular among the Nepalese, was discontinued from February 5 ever since it showed Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran saying in New Delhi the reasons India pulled out of the SAARC summit in Dhaka February 6-7.

Shyam Saran said the security situation in Dhaka after a grenade attack in which a former Bangladeshi minister was killed and the developments in Nepal were the reasons for India's pullout.

On February 1, Nepal's King Gyanendra had dismissed the Sher Bahadur Deuba government, imposed a state of emergency suspending fundamental rights and instituted a new cabinet under his own chairmanship.

Other Indian news channels like Zee TV, NDTV and Indian state TV Doordarshan too were off air. While DD's Sports channel was available, its national and news channels have been taken off.

Perhaps the hardest hit among the Indian news channels was Nepal 1 by Indian media celebrity Nalini Singh. Unlike the other Indian channels, it beams programmes in Nepalese. Being off the air in Nepal probably meant a considerable drop in viewership to an already struggling channel.

The royal takeover had affected the Nepalese media as well.

The government had ordered all private radio stations in Nepal to stop broadcasting news and views and air only entertainment programmes.

While Nepalese TV channels could beam news, there can be no criticism of the army, the royal action and news about Maoist activities outside of what is provided by the army.

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