Saturday, May 25, 2013

Govt to probe 'illegal' video call from Everest summit

KATHMANDU, May 20: The government has initiated investigation into the incident involving a British national who made a live video call from the top of the Mount Everest without taking prior approval from the authorities.

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) on Monday sought a written clarification from the local agency-- Summit Nepal Trekking Private Limited -- that coordinated the expedition of British climber Daniel Thomas Hughes over the incident involving live video call with BBC television from the Everest summit without taking due permission from the concerned government agency.

"We have also asked liaison officer of the expedition team to furnish details," said Chief of Tourism Industry Division under the MoCTCA Purna Chandra Bhattarai. Bhattarai said legal action will be taken against Hughes and his expedition team for involving in the activities other than those permitted by the government.

"The expedition team had permissions only to take three walkie-talkies and set up a base camp," he said.

A member of the Jagged Globe Everest Expedition 2013, Hughes made it to the top of the Mount Everest Sunday morning. Not only did he make a live video call to the BBC Television, Hughes, upon the request by the TV anchor, had even briefly panned his smartphone from the top of the Everest, showing BBC audience across the globe a spectacular view of the snow-clad mountains.

MoCTCA officials said the expedition team leader has signed in the agreement that reads, "All news regarding the expedition must be conveyed first to the MoCTCA and only then can be sent to others." Not only did Hughes broadcast live from the top of the Everest, but he did so without due permission from the government. The 33-year old British national is also found to have breached the agreement that clearly states that the information relating to the ascent be first made available to the government, officials said.

Likewise, the agreement signed also clearly states that satellite, VHC, UGV, wireless set and any other communication equipment are strictly prohibited without the permission from concerned authorities and must not be used for commercial purpose. "Failure to do so may result in confiscation of equipment, cancellation of the expedition permit and additional penalty according to the law," the agreement states further.
As per the provisions in the Tourism Act 2035 BS, Hughes is likely to face charges on grounds of ´immoral´ activities and flouting existing laws of Nepal.

While Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) and Sagarmatha National Park can initiate separate legal actions against his ´illegal´ acts, Hughes may be banned from entering Nepal for five years and from setting foot on Mount Everest for 10 years as per the Tourism Act 2035 BS.
The MoIC permission is a must for filming or making any audio visual materials for public broadcasts. While it costs $10,000 for acquiring permit for filming or producing audio/visual materials, any climber who wishes to take satellite phone has to pay Rs 120,000 to acquire government permission for each of its terminal.

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