'Mudslinging Against PM Oli': Nepal Cable Distributors Block Indian News Channels

There has been public outrage in Nepal over reports that made insinuations about Nepali PM K.P. Sharma Oli and the Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi.

New Delhi: Nepali cable service providers blacked out Indian news channels on Thursday after the country saw public outrage over Indian media reports that made insinuations about Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and the Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi.

“As Indian news channels violate the ethics of journalism, we have decided not to broadcast them except the Doordarshan, following the consultations among the service providers,” Dhruba Sharma, vice0chairman of Mega Max TV, the largest independent cable television service provider in Nepal, announced, as reported by Republica.

As per Setopati, Sharma stated that around nine cable service operators have blocked transmission of Indian news channels, while broadcast of entertainment and sports channels remain uninterrupted.

He stated that his company has stopped around 20 Indian news channels. 

The blocking of Indian news channels comes in the backdrop of a barrage of criticism from all sections of Nepal political leadership against reports in the Indian media. Relations between the two neighbours have been going through a rough patch due to disputes over territory, with Kathmandu having issued a new map incorporating areas claimed by India.

The Nepal establishment’s ire has been especially provoked after Zee News, a Hindi news channel, ran a 16-minute-long show with a headline which claimed that the Nepali prime minister had been ‘honey trapped’ by the Chinese envoy.

Nepal is currently facing political turmoil due to a factional feud in the ruling Nepal Communist Party, which had led PM Oli to even prorogue the parliament to avoid facing a floor test. The Chinese envoy has been meeting with several leaders of NCP, as well as President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, PM Oli and his main rival, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

According to Republica, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Press Council Nepal and other media organizations have apparently issued statements against Indian media reports.

Earlier in the day, Nepal’s minister of finance, information and communication, Yubaraj Khatiwada indicated that Kathmandu had taken a serious view of the Indian media reports.

“Nepal government condemns such acts…The government will seek political and legal ways against such an objectionable act,” he added. 

So far, Nepal government has not announced the implementation of the ban from its side. Sources stated that Nepal has conveyed its concern about the media reports targeting Prime Minister Oli to the Indian government through diplomatic channels.

Former deputy prime minister and ruling party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha tweeted that the “baseless propaganda by the Indian media against Nepal government and…Prime Minister has crossed all limits”.

“Stop with the nonsense,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Nepal prime minister’s chief political advisor, Bishnu Ramal also tweeted that the such “malicious” media reports will “only damage the age-old friendly ties existing between our two countries and people”.

Foreign affairs advisor to PM Oli, Rajan Bhattarai linked the “fake and fabricated reports” in the Indian media to the unveiling of the new political map of the country by Oli.

Former Nepali deputy prime minister and opposition leader of pro-monarchist RPP, Kamal Thapa also asserted that the campaign of “mudslinging against PM Oli by some Indian media cannot be acceptable”. He had also posted a caricature published in the Indian newspaper Times of India along with an editorial that criticised the Nepali PM.

This is not the first time that Indian news channels have been blacked out in Nepal. In 2015, Nepal cable TV operators had also blocked Indian television channels in protest against the so-called economic “blockade” when trucks carrying supplies to Nepal were delayed at the border points with India.