|Home >News||31 May 2002|
Nepal's premier TV magazine passes 250 mark
Aankhijhyal, Nepal's most popular TV magazine programme on environment and social issues, has just produced the 250th edition.
The half-hour programme series has been produced regularly since May 1994 by the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ). Initially a fortnightly, the programme's consistently high ratings and public appeal prompted the broadcaster, Nepali Television, to allocate a weekly slot in 1999.
Aankhijhyal is the centrepiece of NEFEJ's Audio Visual Unit, and has been widely acclaimed for its investigative approach to sustainable development and social justice issues.
As impressive as the programme's appeal and impact is the fact that it has been sustained without a break by this non-profit cooperative of journalists. Whether or not external funding was available, NEFEJ has continued producing the programme - often using its own savings from other, better-funded projects.
The magazine relies on a network of roving reporters and producers who criss-cross the Himalayan kingdom, in search of interesting stories. These stories depict how Nepal's 23 million people cope with survival and subsistence needs even as the nation struggles to achieve minimum living standards for people without further degrading the environment.
From land reform and agrochemical misuse to the conservation of heritage sites, and from the trafficking of women and children to HIV, a kaleidoscope of issues, concerns and controversies have been covered on Aankhijhyal. The wide and varied environmental and social problems featured on it may not always have been resolved, but prime-time coverage helped generate public debate and official action.
In some instances, the Aankhijhyal spotlight pushed controversial policies or development projects to be reviewed, revamped or abandoned. An example was when a medical school was proposed to be built at Devghat, which would have directly impacted the biodiversity and cultural hotspots of Chitwan. When Aankhijhyal picked up the story, it became a national issue and the government later shelved the whole proposal.
"The programme takes a dispassionate view on issues," says Rabindra Pandey, head of NEFEJ's Audio Visual Unit, and a producer of the programme. "Our primary job is to gather all relevant information and present it in a way that our viewers can understand and relate to. We let our viewers decide."
From all indications, viewers do take note and consider Aankhijhyal as one of the best forums for public discussion in Nepal. Both the number and diversity of feedback to the programme have been growing over the years - now some stories are first suggested by viewers themselves.