Media in Bhutan
The media in Bhutan is a fairly young development. The concept of the media, as a player in the growth of a modern society began in the mid 1980s, with the establishment of the first Bhutanese newspaper, Kuensel along with the Bhutan Broadcasting Station (BBS). In the late 1990s, ICT was introduced and electronic media was added to the list, followed by television a few years later. Today, Bhutanese media has grown considerably in all its forms – print, broadcast, film, music and internet.
Until recently, Kuensel was the only available print media. However, with increasing literacy and changing social needs, a number of private newspapers and magazines were launched. Bhutan Times and Bhutan Observer were licensed in 2006; Bhutan Today in 2008; Business Bhutan and The Journalist in 2009; Druk Nyetshul in 2010, Druk Yoedzer and Druk Gyelyong Sharshog in 2011. Magazines range from entertainment to news magazines such as Druk Trowa, Drukpa, Bhutan Window and Yeewong.
Radio is the most effective media in the country and reaches the largest audience by far. Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) is the national public service broadcaster. BBS Radio (then known as Radio NYAB) was started in November 1973 by young volunteers belonging to the National Youth Association of Bhutan. In 1986, with the commissioning of a 10 KW short-wave transmitter and a small broadcast studio, Radio NYAB was renamed as Bhutan Broadcasting Service. BBS radio broadcasts for 24 hours in four languages (Dzongkha, Sharchop, Lhotshamkha and English), on both shortwave and FM frequency as well as online.
In the last few years, five private FM Radio Stations i.e. Kuzoo FM, Radio Valley, Centennial Radio, Radio High, and Radio Waves were established. While the FM services and shortwave services of the BBS reach the entire country, Kuzoo FM radio services are available in 18 Dzongkhags, while remaining radio stations services are currently available only in Thimphu. These new radio services have created a platform for people to voice their concerns and are already addressing a wide range of social issues.
Television was only introduced in 1999. BBS TV is the only television channel that caters for local news and programmes within Bhutan and was launched on 2 June 1999. Described as the most important event in the history of electronic media in Bhutan, the BBS launched its satellite television service in February 2006. BBS TV is now available in almost 40 Asian countries – from Turkey in the West to Indonesia in Southeast Asia.
On 18 September 1992, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo issued a Royal Edict delinking the BBS from the Ministry of Communications to give it the flexibility to grow professionally and to enable the station to be more effective in fulfilling its important responsibility towards society.
Cable television services are now available in 19 of the 20 Dzongkhags and about 40 different channels are provided by the cable TV operators. While the film industry is still in its infancy, the number of Bhutanese films has been increasing with more people venturing into the industry.
Kuenselonline has one of the highest hits for visitors and so does its online forum. The online culture for Bhutanese has fast developed and it can be addressed so due to the presence of Bhutanese on social networking site like facebook. So many Bhutanese are available on twitter and numerous Bhutanese bloggers available creating a news feed of their own.
With the online platform, we are not just what we know, but we are what we share.