Radio High, the fifth FM radio station in Thimphu, has been ‘off air’ for more than three months for unknown reasons.
Radio stations are mandated to notify BICMA in the event of interruption in broadcasting for more than two days.
Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authoritys (BICMA) Chief Information and Media Officer, Lakshuman Chhetri said the authority is currently reviewing the circumstances under which Radio High went off air without the approval of BICMA.
Inside sources cited ownership issues of the station as the reason. An ex-employee of Radio High said, “Ugyen Tenzin owned the company but now Nerpa of Peljorkhang is the owner”.
However, records with BICMA have Ugyen Tenzin as the proprietor. Lakshuman said, “With BICMA, legally and officially, Ugyen Tenzin is still the proprietor”.
Proprietor and managing director of Radio High, Ugyen Tenzin was not available for comment and Nerpa refused to comment.
Clause 2.6 (f) of the Broadcasting License Terms and Condition requires a licensee to notify the licensing authority, in writing, in the event of change in address, contact information, management, changes in operation timings, programme schedule or content, and interruption in broadcasting for longer than two days.
Radio High was launched in August 2010 with thirty employees to handle overall management.
In August 2008, before Radio High came into existence, BICMA issued a warning to all the private radio stations about suspending or revoking their license for the unprofessional language used by radio jockeys and particularly for flirting on call shows.
The ‘cautionary notice’ from BICMA dated 8 August, 2008 states, “It has come to our attention that the FM stations are also engaging in open air flirting and conversations with the listeners in foul language, including the use of expletives, sexual innuendos and profanity.”
However, the allegation was denied by the three private radios – Kuzoo FM, Radio Valley, and Centennial Radio.
The current case of Radio High is under review by BICMA following which legal action will be initiated if required. There are no official clues as of now about why the station went off air. However, Lakshuman said decision to revoke a license if need be is a major penalty and requires the due process to be completed.
Currently there are five FM radio stations in the country of which Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) is state-owned.