Helping Media

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The first executive director of Bhutan Media Foundation, Lily Wangchhuk talks to Business Bhutan’s Phuntsho Wangdi on her plans for the foundation.

Q. What is the first thing that you want to do for the media?

As we have a young media, with few exceptions, our media currently lacks the professionalism, specialization, maturity, substance, research and depth. It is not only urban centric but there is emerging lack of trust and credibility of the media and over reliance on the government to sustain. I would like to address the current scenario by aiming to strengthen professionalism, advance media studies, advocate public interest and promote excellence in journalism and communications disciplines besides  encouraging specialization, variety and enabling the media to fulfilling its key role of informing,  educating and entertaining that caters to both the urban and rural population.

Q. What are the challenges you might face?
Currently there is lack of partnership and adequate coordination amongst media agencies.  I would like to promote and create a better environment that is cooperative and conducive not only amongst media agencies and media professionals but also with other relevant partners and institutions. I intend to achieve this by supporting and encouraging initiatives that allow media professionals from varied background to interact, address common issues, advance professional skills, and assist in the professional growth of the Bhutanese media through the formation of Journalist Association and Press/Media Clubs and other networking opportunities.

The other challenge is media houses are very different from each other in terms of size, reach, ownership, operation cost, and frequency of publications or airing, among others. Thus different media agencies will have different issues and challenges that will need to taken into consideration. There are also challenges with the issue of sustainability of ailing media houses for which we intend to provide stimulus packages but it will be dependent on certain criteria. We will also assist media agencies with information and ideas that will be drawn from international best practice and lessons learned from other countries on addressing sustainability related issues, which would probably help them realign their strategies and priorities.

Q. How do you think Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF) can foster the growth of a strong and vibrant media in the country?
It will be the objective of BMF to foster the professional growth of the Bhutanese media by supporting need based training opportunities, exchange programs and links with training institutions, professional associations, research centers, and media organizations both within and outside Bhutan, supporting in-country journalism and mass communication program in colleges and institutes, supporting participation in seminars, workshops, and conferences on issues related to the media, institute in-country scholarships for journalism studies to Bhutanese students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The BMF will also work towards supporting free and independent media in the country by upholding the rights of citizens to information, and freedom of expression and media,      protecting     the rights of journalists, media houses, and their sources, safeguarding editorial independence and instituting a system to recognize journalistic works. In addition, it will also work towards supporting literacy and media awareness initiatives, promote national language and civic education programs in the media, provide stimulus packages to ailing media houses, support initiatives which create avenues to educate people through direct contact with media professionals and provide a platform for public to engage in public discourse which is crucial in democratic Bhutan.

Lilly Wangchuk. Photo courtesy/Business Bhutan.

Q. What are your the key priorities being the executive director of BMF? If you could list down top three priorities.
My first priority is to review and understand the current operating environment of our media including its challenges, gaps and opportunities. This exercise will enable us to formulate our strategic plan for media development covering both short and long term interventions and activities. I would also like to draw on international best practices from other young democratic countries.

The second priority is work towards implementation of the strategic plan which will be in line with the charter and outcome of consultative process with media organizations and relevant partners. It will mainly be targeted at constructively promoting and ensuring positive influence on the role of the media in the practice of democratic governance in Bhutan; facilitate a stronger relation between the academia, media practitioners and governance; encourage, and assist in the development of media programs which specifically engages civil society on issues of governance, democracy and the media as public opinion is an important aspect.

The third priority but most important will be ongoing efforts with resource mobilization. Given His Majesty’s personal commitment in strengthening our media and democracy, we are currently starting the Foundation with a seed fund of Nu 15m contributed by His Majesty. However, we intend to work towards making BMF self sustainable in the long run. This would require much networking and effort in identifying and approaching relevant partners within the country and outside for both technical and financial support towards media development in the country besides establishing institutional linkages and collaboration with relevant partners.

Source: Business Bhutan

23 COMMENTS

  1. CONGRATULATION LILY,
    being your class mate I know you are vocal and stand up to your words .You have got this oppertunity .I hope you can work towards freedom of expression of our countrymen .
    best of luck

  2. Good to see you in media Liliy.
    Given your past experience and passion in this area, you will be able to make a difference.
    Thank you for your help in Delhi and I hope you still have the yellow sapphire from Sri Lanka in your Jupiter finger.
    Coming to melbourne anytine! you are most welcome to our home.
    Parsu
    Melbourne

  3. Lilly, You are right to say “Bhutan’s Democracy is a gift from the former king Jigme Singey Wangchuk.” May be it is considered as a ‘Kidu’ from the King/ But be well understood, its not a democracy owned by the real people of Bhutan.

  4. To what it may seem as a gift may be termed as some kind of a kidu but then,with incidents unraveling in the world it is indeed a peaceful transition to democracy.Democracy at the point of a knife or nozzle of a gun is what the people of today desires.They have no clues as to what extends people suffer and die for to come to this stage of democracy.Having said this,people here should rather be happy that nonetheless it has come and being given with wishes of a free democratic society.For Bhutan’s context it bodes well and is timely with peoples education and desire for a free lives to have a democracy machine engine started be it with pushing or peaceful manner with right keys!! It would be another matter if it was introduced with the people who are better off living in the resettled countries.These are the people with racist and repressive social roots.Look no further to their ancestral country from where they first came and tried to establish in this peaceful country.It can be reasoned that democracy has failed utterly because of these kind of people with their cultured repressive society and can see no further improvement down the future lane as well.Lucky to those people that they got them resettled in third world countries in the name of Bhutan which in first place they didnt belong,and to have got the chance to live with a regular bread on their table while their brethren in Nepal are just better off than the beggars.As a foreigner i feel that complete resettlement of people of nepalese origin would have made sense for a small country than show compassion to the likes of these people.

  5. Billy Jin whoever you may be your mentality is feudal and pro-Bhutan regime. You are speaking in support of a regime which is so nasty when it comes to human rights abuses. You speak of Nepalese as beggars but I bet you if India stops even one instalment of its annual grant to Bhutan your ministers who brag about GNH will be on the street. Its Indian free money on which your king, royal family members, lyonpos and dashos thrive on. Stop Indian money they will be worse than so called poor Nepalese people.

  6. Dear Billy Jin,
    First of all thank you very much for visiting Bhutan News Service. I am confident that visiting bhutannewsservice.com would certainly provide you an opportunity to educate yourself in the context of Bhutan and Bhutanese. When one reads your statement, one can feel that you lack information about Bhutan and the democratic struggle led by its citizens for sustainable peace in Bhutan. It is also clearly understood that when a foreigner lands in Bhutan,Thimphu administration with tender care provide limited information on the sufferings of the people. The administration is clever enough to do its best to cover all its sins, discrimination, attrocities, torture and what not against its citizens. One has to understand that even after 1990’s eviction, people still suffer within their country with no place to go for protection, and known to whom the people could approach for justice, the victims of atrocities still continue living suffocating life for generations. Thus, if you have visited Bhutan at some point in the past, you were definately shown just one side of the coin but the other side of the coin was carefully covered by Thimphu administration. Therefore, it is not your fault to have seen just one side of Bhutan. However, it is your insincerity from your part to lable the citizens of other country with your filthy remark.It reflects your incapability to understand democratic insight, norms, values,knowledge and wisdom.
    Bhagirath
    New Hampshire

  7. Just like any other free thinking man i voiced my opinion.If its to your disliking then,feel free to not to read it.And thanks to your comments i get to learn more of this influx of refugees and the true story behind it now.People migrate to third world countries to escape economic and political drudgeries but in this case it seems to me as a pure greed to easy life here.I did some checking on your facts and found them wanting in reason and logic.That country’s percapita income is one of the highest in your region and is being upgraded to Middle Income group even as we speak here,a jump from LDC status and that too with clean chit on human rights and transparency levels.Stats speak volumes for themselves.And with India having millions under PL it would be a scam to fund another country at the cost of ones own people going hungry and without food.Last heard,India has big projects worth billions and are financed on loans,which to a common reader translates to money earned.

  8. Do not trust Bhutan’s statistics and that its per capita is highest in the region. Tell me if there is any independent research/studies/economic survey carried out by any independent pvt. entity into Bhutan’s actual economic indicators. The statistics provided by Bhutan regime is all untrue and is based on fasle population figures.

  9. Hi Billy Jin,
    Once again I am here with few words for you. It is known fact that the economy of Bhutan is growing faster which I don’t think you have anything to do with. Next, we Bhutanese have no greed to come here for easy life. For your kind information, we are not illegal immigrants.We came here with the formal and legal invitation of the government and we still have reserved our right to go back to our country when we feel safe to do so.
    Bhagirath

  10. Hi Billy Jin,
    I am really looking forward for the day when the human rights abusers in Bhutan who destroyed people’s homes, confiscated their land, citizenship documents and properties, put their opponents to prisoners, tortured them, murdered them, who raped women and arrested their husbands, who banned their language, culture and forced king JSW’s dictate on language, dress and culture and when opposed forcibly thrown them out of country with help from RBG, RBA and RBP all tried in an independent court of law and punish for what they did in the pursuit of their vile political designs. These people have gone unpunished so far and they think nobody can take actions against them but I am sure they will be tried one day when voices will be raised from each country where the refugee victims are being settled. My only request to refugees is not to forget what the rulers did to them, their fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, wives, relatives and grand parents. Let us begin to open the chapters of cruelty and inhuman injustice meted out to Lhotshamps and think how collectively we can seek justice. It is just beginning.

  11. Hi Billy Jin,
    Who ever you are, you have the right to say your say – right or wrong. A lot of phrases you have stated are incorrect. Similarly, the other comments like ‘without India, Bhutan cannot survive. These are silly comments without really knowing the facts and figures. We are biological beings, we all make mistakes but that does not mean you paint a people or a nation with one brush. Bhutanese or Nepali, they are both great people, it is the situations sometime take us to wrong side of the humanity. Few decades ago Nepal almost got the title of ‘most peaceful country in the world,’ or at least there was a movement, and the state of affairs is a quite different now. Bhutan is running around with the slogan National Gross Happiness. Is it true? May be it is true from one perspective, I believe it in some ways, to tell you the truth it was mine too once, but we can not ignore the fact that thousands of humans from Bhutan are in the refugee camps suffering daily. I was a Bhutanese, from southern Bhutan. I still believe that some of my best friends are northern Bhutanese. I ate with them, slept with them, played with them, grew up with them to go further I still love them. That does not mean what has happened with a hundred thousand plus southern Bhutanese is right. I am not saying that only one party is guilty. We both are. It is the bad situation which led us to this. Bhutan Government and Bhutanese people in general, and the people of southern Bhutan could have done a lot to eliminate the last 20 year tragedy from the very start. Don’t use the word ancestry so cheaply. I can easily say that your ancestors were apes and so were mine. Let us respect each other. Let us not curse our ancestors for our mistakes. Billy Jin, you seem to be an educated person and I feel that you might have to think things from wider perspective.

    I hope this gives you some perspective.

    With best wishes to you.

    Chitra

  12. If there is someone who can explain to me, what is the real desire of the Nepalese race??

    The Nepalese in Bhutan who were asked to be Bhutanese, declined and left the Country, Now that you are in Nepal with your own kind, you are neither Bhutanese nor Nepalis. similar situation with the Nepali people in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, They chose to stay in India rather than in Nepal, but now want to be a called a Nepali and not an Indian. While Nepal itself is melting faster than the Mount Everest and seems to be in a dilemma.

    Are such policies being imported from Pakistan or what????

  13. Billy Jin, the kido of your ‘great king, JSW’ is actually a kido forced out of him due to the democratic movements in the region and a huge sacrifice made by South Bhutanese and the East Bhutanese. I adored you when I saw your interview. But when I go through your comments, I find a dingy smell of rot learning of the regime rhetoric. This also shows what information you are going to disseminate to the general public of democratic Bhutan.

    I like to compare your way of thinking about the evicted people of Bhutan with a frog which has spent all its life in a pond. One day it tries to figure out how large an ocean would be. Would it be 10 times larger? or 100 times? or a 1000 times and then it would deny itself… no it would not be so big, uh. Your discourse is limited to labelling filthy terms to the bonafide bhutanese who enjoyed all the citizenship rights equally with you but innociently became the victim of narrow patriotism of your monarch. But sincerely speaking your leaders are covering all their weaknesses and spreading false propaganda about the south Bhutanese. If you are a smart journalist, you should inform the general Bhutanese that you have lost 8500 sq.km of your territory. Your prime minister made a ridiculous statement as its not needed to have formal diplomatic relations with the super power.
    Certainly your mission as the first executive director of Bhutan Media foundation should go beyond the horizon of labelling filthy remarks on poor innocent Bhutanese suffering in the refugee camps in Nepal. One of the reasons of evicting productive citizens of Southern Bhutan by the then regime is to hide the misdeeds of it. But its a very well planned strategy.
    wish you a successful and productive tenure as the first executive director of Bhutan Media Foundation.