Government announced support for independent journalism
Mainstream media and the challenges were still at the heart of discussions. The government wants to promote and protect freedom and independence of the media with the institution of Media Council in the 12th FYP.
Responding to the Bartsham- Shongphu constituency Passang Dorji questioned on the possible interventions of the government to sustain the media in the ongoing National Assembly Session, minister for Information and Communications Karma Donnen Wangdi expressed continued commitment to the media.
To promote and enhance ethical and professional standards amongst journalists, Lyonpo informed that the media council would play a significant role in strengthening the media and protect freedom. He submitted, “The importance of media is known to everyone and media is considered as the fourth arm of the government.”
The Media Council, he submitted, would play a significant role in strengthening the media and protect freedom. “We have media act in place, but we do not have media council to implement it,” he submitted. “The government will extend full support to mainstream media.”
A need for protection and promotion of mainstream news media, the Member of Parliament, Passang Dorji, reported that the mainstream news organizations are facing challenges including financial, human resource and market. “Media play very important role in the democracy and communities to inform the public,” he submitted. “It would be grateful if the government could work on freedom and independence of the media.”
Lyonpo informed the House that the government has supported the media house in terms of professional development, equipments and content development.
He also informed the House that Nu 3million has been allocated for content development grant for the financial year. He submitted, “We are ready to release soon once it is finalized.”
Content development grant stands for an independent, quality journalism that contributes to debate, coverage of rural issues and regions that are mostly neglected by enabling public interest journalism that better informs the public.
Lyonpo also informed some of the government’s initiatives in 12th FYP. As he informed to the House, the program includes 57 long term ex- country training in human resource development 30 for diploma course and 225 short term courses abroad.
He also informed that government will provide Nu 2.609 million for 50 percent of printing subsidy.
Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi informed that the government has supported Nu 23.5million from 2011 to 2013 for the procumbent of equipment, Dzongkha language software development, capacity development grant, content development grant, workshop and study tours, and for annual journalism award.
He also informed the House that the government has also provided about 20 short term and long term training in India, Australia and Europe. “There are about 44 journalists in the country and the government would provide about 271 internship programs.”
For the Media Pluralism Project, Swiss Agency for Development Corporation ( SDC) provided Nu 6million and United Nation Democracy Fund (UNDF) provided Nu 8.7million to the Journalists’ Association of Bhutan ( JAB) and government provided Nu 300,000 for the formation of JAB, these are some of the government’s support as reported by the minister.
MoiC Minister said that the government has supported the media house in terms of professional development, equipments and content development.