The media regulatory authority of Bhutan, Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), has been out in the hunt of some newspapers who are not able to adhere to the licensing terms and conditions, as outlined in the BICMA act. Bhutan Times and Bhutan Youth are two privately run papers that, according to the authority, could not maintain the required conditions of having at least ten members in the editorial board. Newspapers stands are minus these two papers for more than a month.
While Bhutan Youth’s license is revoked for the time, Bhutan Times month long suspension is lifted after the paper agreed to publish an apology of having violated the terms and conditions signed earlier with the BICMA.
Bhutan Times is required to publish the apology, relocate the office of the company, maintain the required team members in the editorial board and appoint a chief executive before May 31, 2013. Non-compliance with these conditions of ban-lifting shall give reasons to BICMA for revoking the license, according to the BICMA rules.
Notice has been issued to other papers like Bhutan Today, Bhutan Observer, The Journalist, Druk Nyetshul, Druk Yoedzer, Gyelyong Sharshog and Druk Melong compelling them to meet the editorial requirement. Sustainability of these papers is dependent on the revenue they can generate, which at the moment most papers are facing the crunch.
Editor of Bhutan Today, a biweekly tabloid, M B Subba said, “ We are trying to meet the BICMA criteria of ten people in the newsroom, but our financial status does not allow that many. So we hope that the authority will reconsider the requirement, if all papers are to sustain.”
A communication and training officer with UN system in Bhutan once told, “ The future of many newspapers and magazines in Bhutan is rather bleak.”