The question was from a private media house on government support for media houses, but it soon turned into the cabinet airing its views on what it saw as one-sided coverage of the Parliament by the National Broadcaster and Radio and also to some extent the National Paper.
The Prime Minister in response to a question on support to dying private media houses in the monthly Meet the Press said, “During our election campaign we promised to support the media, but not the business of media. If we help media companies then what about other businesses like shops, contractors, etc. who will also demand help when they are failing.”
He, however, said that media was not only about economics and employment but more importantly about democracy, which is why the government provided the biggest support in terms of non interference.
The Prime Minister said that though the National Broadcaster and the National paper had done some biased coverage of the Parliament session, the government had never interfered or done anything.
He made a reference to the annual budget and said how the National Broadcaster and National Paper media houses had focused more on the criticism of the budget by the former Finance Minister than the actual budget itself.
“The Finance Minister was in fact unhappy with the BBS coverage of the budget. The points of the former Finance Minister in the Parliament was shown and again re-shown on BBS, but
our governments views were left out and not reflected but even then we did not say anything,” said the Prime Minister.
The Finance Minister Namgay Dorji said, “The former Finance Minister’s points were essentially nine points which are already addressed in the budget report. We came out with a budget even though we just had one month and though the figures were changed the format system and the staff working with me are the same that the former Finance Minister had. I did not protest even though BBS did not show our reply on the issue.”
A senior minister during interaction over tea also shared concerns that the National Broadcaster had been going out of its way to overwhelmingly support the Opposition whether or not the facts were in place; a trend he said was visible
during the elections itself and had not stopped since. The Minister said that government was all for media freedom and open to criticism, but media houses should go with the facts instead of being manipulated by political loyalties and bias.
The Minister for Economic Affairs Norbu Wangchuk said, “Soon after the government came in the cabinet was presented with an advertisement policy. We discussed the policy and found that it would disadvantage the private media and so asked for a further study.”
He also said that since the compulsory insertion of Dzongkha inserts in private papers was based on a National Assembly resolution the cabinet could not immediately undo the decision but was looking at putting up the issue to the Parliament.