February 23, 2010 · Filed Under Topstories, archive · Comment
The Bhutanese media has received the much needed impetus to forge ahead with gusto. On Sunday His Majesty the King signed a charter heralding the establishment of Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF) which will surmount much of the difficulties dogging the fledging industry.
To get the foundation going, His Majesty granted a seed fund of Nu 15.00 million which is expected to grow up to Nu 100.00 million by the end of the year through fund-raising efforts spearheaded by His Majesty Himself. According to its charter, the foundation’s resources will be used to promote the constitutionally enshrined rights of the citizens to information, freedom of expression and media, and develop a vibrant knowledge-based society by harnessing the powers of the media to inform and educate people. A strong media will also help strengthen democracy in Bhutan through civic participation and informed decision-making platforms while, at the same time, safeguarding editorial independence, protecting the rights of the journalists, media houses and their sources. To engender professionalism, an enabling environment will be created for the media to grow into professional and responsible entities by providing training opportunities to journalists overseas besides supporting in-country journalism and mass communication programs in schools and colleges. Media professionalism will be furthered through the formation of journalistassociations and press/media clubs that allow journalists to “interact, address common issues, advance professional skills, and assist in the professional growth of the Bhutanese media”. Equally important, the foundation will help create a strong media freedom environment which upholds the highest code of ethics to evolve into a vibrant and responsible media. Doing this will help enable the media to play a constructive role in the social, economic, and political life of the nation. The foundation would provide stimulus packages to ailing media houses to help sustain up-coming media houses which are financially weak. This effort will also lead to the creation of a level playing field in the market. Rescue packages, however, will not be made available if the reasons for floundering are due to the inefficiency of the media house to compete in the market or for its poor editorial content. Promoting the national language, Dzongkha, and its readership forms an important mandate of the foundation. The media houses will be subsidized for the losses incurred through the publication of Dzongkha editions. On media literacy activities, the foundation will promote free, responsive interaction between the media and the public to create awareness and educate on media and its impact. The foundation also aims to have media literacy programs in schools and colleges. The charter however is just the beginning. Media houses will now have to get-together and draw up mechanisms to administer the foundation. And this is expected to be very tricky given that the media houses are very different from each other in terms of size, reach, ownership, operation cost, and frequency of publications or airing, among others.