Yoga guru Ramdev’s launch of TV channels in Nepal faces opposition

PTI, Nov 22, 2021, 8:19 AM IST

Kathmandu: The Nepal government will take action against yoga guru Ramdev’s two television channels if it is found that they are being operated in the country without seeking permission and or following due procedures, a senior official said on Sunday.

Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ jointly launched the two TV channels – Aastha Nepal TV and Patanjali Nepal TV – in the presence of Ramdev and his close aide Acharya Balkrishna on Friday.

The channels are meant for broadcasting religious and yoga-related programmes.

However, the Director General of Nepal’s Department of Information and Broadcasting Gogan Bahadur Hamal said that two television channels have never applied for registration and did not follow any legal procedure to start them.

”We will take action if we found that Patanjali Nepal and Ashtha Nepal channels belonging to India’s yoga guru Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna have built infrastructures to broadcast the television programmes without fulfilling any legal formalities and even having registered,” Hamal told PTI.

”We can’t believe the statement issued by the Patanjali Nepal. We have formed an investigation committee to find out the truth. If they have made any preparation regarding operating the television channels from Nepal without our permission and without following due procedures, we will take necessary action,” Hamal said.

However, Patanjali Yogpeeth Nepal said in a statement that it has already gone through a verification process for the television channels from Company Registrar’s Office and the process has been initiated for further permission from the bodies concerned for operating the television channels.

“We have not actually broadcast the television channels, we have only made technical preparation for the same. We have only inaugurated the television broadcasting office building,” it said.

It said the television channels – aimed at broadcasting programmes relating to yoga, Ayurvedic education, culture, literature and spiritual philosophy – will start operating only after the due processes.

Commenting on the development, Patanjali Spokesperson S K Tijarawala said that the Aastha TV has a due license for downlinking in Nepal, which is valid up to 2024.

”Prime Minister Debuba inaugurated the trial run of two channels – Aastha Nepal TV and Patanjali Nepal TV – with country-specific content in the Nepali language on November 19, 2021. It has got 30 days time to get commercial approval for this trial run for the full telecast,” he said.

He said that the full broadcast will start as per the due procedure after December 19.

”Information & Broadcasting Ministry of the Government of Nepal has already acknowledged the fact that this inauguration of the two channels – Aastha Nepal TV and Patanjali Nepal TV – is as per due diligence following the rules and regulations,” he added. Meanwhile, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, an umbrella organization of local journalists, issued a statement, saying the country’s law prevents foreign investment in the media and the launching of television channels by the Patanjali group was a violation of the law.

”We want to remind the group concerned about the existing laws and rules that prevent operating TV channels under foreign investment,” it said.

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