Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lights out for TV news in Nepal

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KATHMANDU (AFP) – Nepal's most watched television station is to broadcast its main evening news bulletin in semi-darkness from Tuesday to highlight the problems caused by the country's chronic electricity shortage.loadshedding

Kantipur Television said it would rely on traditional kerosene lanterns -- a common sight across Nepal -- to light the studio every night in a symbolic protest over the power crisis.

It hopes to pressurise the government to resolve an electricity shortage that sees homes and businesses in Nepal plunged into darkness for up to 18 hours a day, despite the huge potential for hydropower in the Himalayan nation.

The programme, broadcast every evening, is to be renamed after the Nepalese word for lantern and will carry themed news reports, starting with an interview Tuesday with Nepal's energy minister.

"It is a symbolic protest, but we hope it will strike a chord with our viewers," Kantipur's news chief Tirtha Koirala told AFP.

"These power cuts have brought people's daily lives to a standstill. Media organisations are losing money because no one can watch the television in a power cut and we are forced to use expensive generators to broadcast.

"There are no penalties on the government for failing to provide these basic needs, so we wanted to put moral pressure on them to do something."

Impoverished Nepal relies mainly on hydropower for its electricity, but produces only 634 megawatts a year, well short of the national requirement, according to the Nepal Electricity Authority.

Experts say the Nepal's huge mountain river system could be generating up to 83,000 megawatts of power, allowing it to sell surplus electricity to other countries.

But political instability and the lack of security have prevented the necessary investment.

Source: AFP

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