Govt. out­lines plans to sup­port main­stream me­dia

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Phub Dem from Thim­phu

Pro­vid­ing print­ing sub­sidy, ca­pac­ity build­ing cour­ses and en­hanc­ing me­dia coun­cil are plans that the gov­ern­ment is look­ing into to ad­dress var­i­ous chal­lenges faced by the main­stream me­dia.

This was di­vulged by in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter Karma Don­nen Wangdi when quizzed by the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MP) from Bartsham-Shong­phu con­stituency in Trashigang, Pas­sang Dorji (Ph.D), on pos­si­ble gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion to ad­dress the chal­lenges the main­stream news or­ga­ni­za­tions are fac­ing, which in­clude fi­nan­cial, hu­man re­source and mar­ket dur­ing the de­lib­er­a­tion in the Na­tional As­sem­bly yes­ter­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the MoIC min­is­ter, print­ing sub­sidy of Nu 2.609mn, which sums up to about 50% of the cost, are planned to be pro­vided by the gov­ern­ment. In ad­di­tion, con­tent de­vel­op­ment grant of Nu 3mn are al­ready in the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion bill.

The min­istry will also pro­vide hu­man re­source as­sis­tance ser­vices as stated in the 12th Plan.

“Long term train­ing for 57 in­di­vid­u­als, diploma cour­ses for 30 and short term cour­ses for 225 will be pro­vided to foster the hu­man re­source chal­lenges,” the min­is­ter said.

The gov­ern­ment, it was in­formed, will also en­hance me­dia coun­cil, which has been con­sti­tuted as per the In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Act 2018. The in­de­pen­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion is aimed to pro­mote and pro­tect free­dom and in­de­pen­dence of the me­dia, ac­credit and cer­tify jour­nal­ists prac­tic­ing in Bhutan and pro­tect the free­dom of press and pro­mote its func­tion­ing.

Ly­onpo Karma Don­nen Wangdi added that the im­por­tance of me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tion is known to ev­ery­one and me­dia is con­sid­ered to be the fourth es­tate. “It is con­sid­ered to be one of the most vi­tal com­po­nents,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, start­ing 2011 to 2017 the gov­ern­ment has in­vested Nu 23.5mn on main­stream news or­ga­ni­za­tions (news­pa­per and tele­vi­sion), in­clud­ing bud­gets for Dzongkha lan­guage soft­ware, ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment train­ing, work­shop, study tours and grants for con­tent de­vel­op­ment and an­nual me­dia awards.

“Other as­sis­tance such as Jour­nal­ists As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutan (JAB) spends six mil­lion in me­dia tourism projects which is funded by the Swiss Agency for De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion (SDCs).While UN democ­racy fund con­trib­uted an amount of Nu 8.7mn from 2016 to 2018,” the Ly­onpo added.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it was also in­formed that the then gov­ern­ment pro­vided a seed fund of Nu 3mn to start JAB and that the Min­istry of Labour and Hu­man Re­sources had been pro­vid­ing cour­ses and train­ings to the jour­nal­ists.

Mean­while, MP Pas­sang Dorji sug­gested that the gov­ern­ment should frame poli­cies align­ing to the free­dom of the press.

The MoIC min­is­ter said the chal­lenges re­gard­ing fi­nan­cial and hu­man re­sources are due to chang­ing process of the poli­cies and rel­e­vant or­ga­ni­za­tions are yet to be es­tab­lished.

“Once such or­ga­ni­za­tions are es­tab­lished, it will help main­stream news or­ga­ni­za­tions solve those chal­lenges,” he added.

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