For the last one month, Bhutanese private media companies have been grumbling over the DPT government’s bias against private media over the issue of government advertisements given only to state owned media like BBS, Kuzoo FM and Kuensel. The tussle is ongoing.
Private media companies in Bhutan are staggering under the low return of their actual investment and lower percentage of regular news consumers in the country. Advertisements provide lifeblood for their sustenance/survival. But the lingering question is: Why the minister of information, Nanda Lal Rai, issued directives not to provide any advertisements or government notifications to the media houses? Did he mean it to quell the private media companies ultimately?
The public has the right to information as enshrined in the constitution. And, the RTI bill is yet to get stamped by both houses to make it a law. When the private media, particularly ‘The Bhutanese’, has set out to report in more investigative vigor, the DPT government and Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley seems to be tailgating the media houses. The report on Gyalpozhing land case, Trowa Theater, Denchi and even the case of sacking a Principal of Dorokha school are what The Bhutanese found to contain some foul play by the government.
Other private media companies like Bhutan Today, Business Bhutan and even Bhutan Times are indicating the ‘dry’ source of financing their business. The reporters in all these companies have complained about the irregular and reduced salary they get from their employers. So, it has become almost gripping for the private media in Bhutan to shut down and let their employees run for other professions. Do we want these media to shut down in a Democratic Bhutan?
Chief Editor of Bhutan News Service, the author can be reached at: [email protected]