Does Nepal need a separate television channel with the contents designed for the global audience? Is the country capable to start up and continue a worldwide television channel? These questions sounded similar to those raised during the initial phase of Nepal Television (NTV) in the mid-1980s. A section of people had opposed the television broadcasting project, citing that it could be a white elephant. They argued that entire efforts to operate the TV stations would be futile, troublesome and expensive. Nevertheless, today, nearly after four decades of its inception, NTV is planning to reach out to the global viewership. The state-owned and pioneer television broadcaster in Nepal has started doing homework to initiate NTV World in its upcoming anniversary. The idea to begin a new channel to address a global audience is ambitious and challenging. However, the noble idea to preserve, protect and promote national narrative is commendable. Now, NTV's preparation to become a part of global communication needs to be focused on identifying its scope, organisational structure and human resources. Its goal would materialise through the planning of resources management and production of world-class contents to meet the expectations of the potential audience.
Pragmatic strategy In this context, the NTV management needs to outline a pragmatic strategy to address the needs and expectations amidst the little resources available and the constraints. On one hand, a quest to launch a world channel needs to be encouraged, but on the other, everyone should understand that due to the various limitations and socio-political culture, there will be a narrow region of feasible action or very few things to be attainable at once. A moderated startup with original contents would pave the path for the upcoming future with gradual improvements. Thus, while preparing to go global, NTV needs to undertake the evaluation and analysis of its strength, weakness, opportunity and threat amidst the competition among the worldwide television channels. The existing players of the global television are long-time experienced and they are mobilising huge resources, including well-trained and efficient human resources. For a while keep aside all those well-known global television channels such as BBC World News, DW, VOA, NHK World-Japan or All Jazeera. While talking about the immediate neighbours, Nepal is adjoined by the country of immensely emerging global channel CGTN. Likewise, in South Asia DD India, PTV World also possesses significant resources and experience human resources. NTV can get cooperation from Nepali nationals who have substantial experiences in working with the global media. Besides regular human resource, it may fulfill its needs by outsourcing. There are challenges, for instance, a worldwide TV from Nepal may find difficulty in presenting Nepal's world views and perspective through the globally acclaimed native experts and intellectuals in the format of in-depth interviews. An analogy of a tree would feet in this regard. A tree generally gets named after its leaves, i.e., green tree, yellow tree or so on. But the colour of the leaves is determined by the amount of nutrition the roots get from the soil and the overall atmosphere. NTV's current preparation is based on the government's plan and the budget of this fiscal year. The upcoming global TV from Nepal would be considered as the medium to get an official and authoritative world view from Nepal. Thus, it ought to take care of the geopolitical realities of the country. Nepal's global image as a peaceful and friendly nation has been manifested in its foreign policy at least from the beginning of its journey towards modernity in 1951. In the aftermath of the 1950's political changes, Nepal did not only establish an independent Ministry for Foreign Affairs, but also moved forward towards expanding diplomatic relations with the countries of different continents. The country became a member of the United Nations, and later she joined the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Nepal extends diplomatic relations with over twenty-six countries within a decade. Today, Nepal is committed to contributing to global peace, harmony and security. The country has a global image that depicts a country committed to a foreign policy with a fundamental objective to enhance the dignity of the nation. The constitution of Nepal has provided the guiding principle in this regard. It has explicitly defined that safeguarding of freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity, nationality, independence and dignity of Nepal, the rights of the people, border security, economic wellbeing and prosperity shall be the basic elements of the national interest of the Nation. Moreover, the directive principle of the constitution holds that the State shall direct its international relations towards enhancing the dignity of the nation in the world community by maintaining international relations based on sovereign equality.
State’s policy Nepal has declared her State Policy in the constitution to conduct an independent foreign policy based on the Charter of the United Nations, non-alignment, and principles of Panchsheel, international law and the norms of world peace. The country is committed to reviewing treaties concluded in the past, and make treaties, agreements based on equality and mutual interests. Against this backdrop, the upcoming NTV World needs to present the base to inform every individual of the globe about Nepal's perspective in global affairs. The channel will be expected to accomplish the task of nation's image building. The news values of the domestic news market may not be applicable in the global scenario. Especially, the angle and the way of presentation would be different from the existing practice of Nepal Television. But, if the products would comprise innovations, best practices with universal appeal, NTV World may sell its contents. However, there could be a big question who exactly will be the audience of NTV World? Nevertheless, a hope is there that a newly-born global channel would eventually find its niche.
(Dr. Aryal is associated with the Central Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Tribhuvan University.)