No developments on BBS proposal to turn PSB

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Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) has not made any formal presentation but shared a draft copy of the Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) bill to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) when the People’s Democratic Party was in power.

The bill is now with the incumbent government. 

BBS has approached the ministry and requested for the status of PSB to perform their mandates optimally.

The former minister of MoIC, DN Dhungyel said that BBS made a presentation to the ministry. “Certain clauses were added and deleted but they did not submit the final report.”

“The present government should take it forward now. I am for it,” he added.

Managing Director of BBS, Tshering Wangchuk, said that there is no update on the issue and BBS would announce any new developments. “The matter was discussed with the board last week and in the next few weeks, the matter will be discussed with Office of Attorney General (OAG) to seek the legal advice,” he said.

He also mentioned that the management might not be able to submit a PSB bill for the coming session but will definitely submit it during the summer session after all the frameworks are worked out. “Once the bill is completely ready, we will present it to the stakeholders,” he added.

Director for Department of Information and Media (DoIM), Rinchen Dorji, said BBS has drafted the bill for PSB and the former government had left it for the new government to take over and continue. BBS had asked for the opportunity to present the bill. “We have to ask BBS and if it comes then BBS needs to look into the provision on PSB in Information Communication and Media Act of Bhutan, 2018,” he said. 

The former minister had told the National Assembly back in December 2014 that BBSC would be a PSB. Since then, BBS has been looking forward to donning PSB status.

The PSB draft bill aims to make BBS a complete PSB that will work for public interest. Currently, about 50% of its recurring expenses are met from advertisements.

One of the reasons that BBSC is pushing for PSB status is to prevent it from becoming the mouthpiece of a political government.

The BBSC was delinked from the Royal Civil Service Commission in 1992.

If BBS does turn into a PSB, it opens up the sector to private TV channels, according to the National Broadcasting Policy.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu