Bhutan’s first broadsheet newspaper The Bhutanese will be launched today morning in a simple function at the Chubachu office on the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s birthday.
The newspaper though planned as a daily newspaper had to launch as a bi-weekly after a recent and substantial increase in printing costs by the printer ‘Kuensel Corporation’ compared to their earlier quoted rates. The new rates for printing the paper nearly double of the initial quote. Kuensel’s printing department however cited increase in raw materials costs and a cost revaluation exercise as reasons for the increase.
The Bhutanese CEO Tenzing Lamsang said, “This is only a temporary setback in our aim to be a daily paper. For now we will have to launch as a bi-weekly as we make some adjustments to our plans given the higher costs and then go daily very soon. However, if the prices come down we are ready to go daily even tomorrow.” The Bhutanese is different from the other papers in being the first broadsheet paper in Bhutan moving away from the tabloid size that Bhutanese newspapers generally prefer. “The broadsheet is in line with the size of most international newspapers. It has its inherent advantages in allowing the paper to be more flexible in placing stories, pictures and advertisements. However, the main motive is to give our readers the feel of a real paper,” said Tenzing Lamsang.
The Bhutanese was designed by a team of professional newspaper designers including font experts who has worked on several international projects. The fonts used for the newspaper has been bought exclusively to give our readers a unique and fresh reading experience.
The Bhutanese newspaper has 35 employees comprising 15 journalists. The paper has started with an investment of more than Nu 3.5 million. The two owners of the paper are the CEO, Tenzing Lamsang and a private businessman Singye Namgyel.
The CEO, Tenzing Lamsang started his career as a reporter with the Indian Express in New Delhi. He was also the chief reporter of Kuensel and last October resigned as the news editor of Business Bhutan.
The paper is entering a market that many feel is already saturated with 10 existing papers of which seven are English and three are in Dzongkha. This is also in the context of a limited advertisement pie.
“We feel that there is always a market for a good quality paper and moreover ‘The Bhutanese’ has not been planned as a short term paper but rather a long term venture dedicated to serious and good journalism,” said Tenzing Lamsang. The project planning started in October 2011 going through a detailed and comprehensive licensing process from Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority. After receiving the in principle letter of approval from BICMA on December 14, 2011, the paper hired its team of 35 employees from 520 plus applicants mainly for the marketing and editorial posts.
The entire team was then put through a vigorous training process. The paper was in the final stages of getting the final license in mid January when a letter from the cabinet secretariat asking that new media licenses should be kept pending leading to some delay and affected the preparation activities of the paper. However, since the paper had completed all legal formalities the pending restriction was lifted later by the cabinet and the paper got its license on February 16.