Two Patanjali television channels owned by yoga Guru Ramdev that are all set to operate in the Himalayan country have been given clean chit in Nepal after a government probe team found that both the channels were not registered in the country yet.
Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and senior Nepali political leaders had inaugurated the two channels -- Aastha Nepal and Patanjali Nepal -- in presence of Ramdev, Acharya Balkrishna at a function in Kathmandu on November 19.
But the launching of the two television channels owned by the Patanjali Group was mired in controversy as the Himalayan nation has not yet allowed any foreign investment in the media sector.
The Department of Information and Broadcasting under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Communication on November 20 formed a committee to study whether both Patanjali television channels are registered in Nepal and from where they got the license to operate.
We found that they have not yet launched the television channels, Gogon Bahadur Hamal, Director General of Department of Information and Broadcasting, told IANS.
It is learned that they (Patanjali Group) symbolically inaugurated the television channels and it was also found during the investigation that they have not installed any equipment and have not even applied for seeking permission, said Hamal.
If Patanjali Group had installed the equipment and started running the television channels, we would definitely have taken action against them but in our investigation, they have not even brought the necessary equipment, Hamal added.
"Nepali law does not permit foreign companies, firms, or any individual to invest in the media sector. If they [Patanjali Group] want to launch a television channel in Nepal, it should be a Nepali investment, the company should be registered in Nepal and it should be owned by Nepali citizens. I hope they will fulfill the criteria before launching the television channels," said Hamal.
The issue grabbed headlines in Nepal and also put pressure on Patanjali group to defend its move. On November 21, the Patanjali Yogpeeth Nepal issued a statement and claimed that it has already started the verification process for launching the television channels through the company registered Office.
"We have initiated the process of seeking permission for registration from concerned Nepali offices to operate the television channels," the statement said, adding, "we have not actually broadcast the television channels, we have only made technical preparation to launch the television channels."
"We have only inaugurated the television broadcasting office building that aims at broadcasting programs relating to yoga, Ayurvedic education, culture, literature and spiritual philosophy - that will start operating only after due processes," the statement said further.
It is said that the Patanjai group only started the trial run of the two television channels on November 19 and is going to seek approval from the government of Nepal very soon. After the controversy hit back, senior officials from Patanjali Yogpeeth, Nepal had recently visited the Department of Information and Broadcasting and inquired about seeking permission on how to operate the television channels as per the Nepali law, Hamal said.