The new Advertising Regulations (Bill), proposed by the government with the aim to regulate the country’s advertising sector, may result in mass job losses, directly in the broadcasting and cable sector and indirectly impact the tourism and travel industry.
Nepal, with a population of about 30 million, has a little over 5.5 million households, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the country’s enumeration and statistics agency. About 3.2 million have cable and satellite TV connections.
About 45,000 people are employed by the cable TV distribution sector. Apart from them, Dish Media Network Ltd ‘Dish Home’ service has 80 distributors, over 4000 sub-dealers, more than 1000 Service Franchise and 2000 recharge card selling outlets and at least 6000 technicians, according to data on its website.
These employees and agents ensure that the government-owned channels, 32 private TV stations and 43 local channels reach every nook and corner of the country.
With the nation marching full steam ahead to digitize its broadcasting industry, some of the employment in the cable TV distribution sector has already been impacted resulting in job losses.
Now, with the proposed Advertising Regulations, there is every likelihood that a vast majority of the foreign channels may shut, as they are not going to be permitted to air channels with advertisements, in turn further impacting the employment scenario.
The bill stipulates a provision of clean feed policy for foreign television channels in Nepal, baring the TV channels from broadcasting foreign advertisements, both in recorded and live feeds. Moreover, Nepali media will not be allowed to broadcast foreign ads by dubbing them.
Indirectly, the advertising regulations and non-availability of most popular foreign channels, would also negatively impact one of its largest industries—travel and tourism.
In 2017, about 940,218 tourists visited the Himalayan nation, which is 25 percent more than 2016, according to the last available Nepal Tourism statistics. The sector is one of the largest contributors to the country’s economy and creating about one million direct and indirect jobs, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which compiles tourism statistics for 185 countries. Its foreign exchange earnings rose close to NRP 58.526 million which is 2.3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
During their stay, apart from sightseeing, trekking, mountaineering, foreign tourists also consume content in the language that they understand and are familiar with. In this regard, majority of tourists especially from English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, etc. get entertainment from broadcasters of foreign TV channels such as Disney, HBO, Discovery, etc. Unavailability of most of the popular TV channels from these broadcasting networks would result as a dampener at a time when the average stay of tourist has already fallen by half to less than a week from 15 days earlier.
As per Nepal Labor Force Survey, there are about 908,000 people who are employed, of which 69.6 percent of them had unstable or short term employment of fewer than 12 months. Of the close to million unemployed, 69.1 percent of job seekers were in the active working age of 15 and 34 years, the survey’s findings showed.
With such high rate of employment, Nepal cannot afford to create a scenario of the current job market being reduced due to new regulations, but rather focus on measures to improve the employment rate of its largely young populace, to bolster the economy and reduce outward migration.