BBS goes High Definition

The Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) achieved a major milestone as it formally launched its High Definition (HD) television service on 26 July 2023 in the BBS head office in Thimphu.

The General Manager of the News and Current Affairs Department (NCAD) of BBS, Thinley Yangchen Dorji, on behalf of the BBS Board, Management and staff welcomed the Chief Guest for the event, the Indian Ambassador Sudhakar Dalela to celebrate a significant milestone in the history of BBS which is the official inauguration of the HD TV.

The GM of NCAD also welcomed the Foreign Minister Dasho (Dr) Tandi Dorji and other guests in her welcome address.

The ceremony saw a video being played that took a nostalgic look at the transition of BBS from the early days of being a youth radio station to the hard work put in by the BBS technical team behind the scenes in the HD project.

The upgrading of BBS to HD service was a major effort and project costing Nu 250 mn that the Finance Ministry secured from the Government of India through the Indian Embassy.

The BBS CEO Kaka Tshering said that BBS was even having difficulty securing parts of its earlier Standard Definition equipment as SD has become obsolete. He said the transition to HD will not only mean clearer visuals but the BBS staff will also look slimmer.

He said BBS TV has come a long way from when it was launched in 1999 with a makeshift studio in Sangaygang where the news was recorded on VHS tapes and then it was taken by bus to the various Dzongkhags to be broadcast the next day for neighbouring Dzongkhags and longer for more distant Dzongkhags.

He said bulk of the 1999 equipment were changed in 2007 when it was changed from analog to digital.

The main focus of the HD project was the upgrading of the two studios with the second component being getting an outdoor broadcasting system for the live election debates. The third and fourth component is procuring and installing a virtual studio and an archiving system.

The fifth component of automating the radio broadcast could not happen due to higher costs.

The project got approval in October 2021 and it was completed two months ago. He said there were some hitches in the dry run during the last two months but things were smoothened out. Kaka said the difference with the project is that BBS technical staff installed the equipment and so they can also repair it.

The Indian Ambassador said in 2019 India’s South Asia satellite enhanced access to information for the Bhutanese by connecting over 11,000 Bhutanese households in remote and rural areas with BBS and partnered in the launch of BBS 3.

The Ambassador congratulated the BBS team for the high quality of the work done by them to complete the project.

He said the two countries have a long history of partnership in technology with the project Digital Drukyul setting up fiber optic cables, ICT labs in schools and public service delivery portals. He also mentioned the launch of Bhutan’s satellite that was built jointly and how data would be used from the satellite.

The Foreign Minister said that besides informing the nation during COVID BBS had to take up extra responsibilities of not only coordinating and informing people but also providing educational services.

The minister said that SOEs have a social mandate and profit should not be the sole mandate. He said many agencies were established due to the social mandate and BBS has a very important social mandate.

The minister acknowledged that BBS is losing people as they go abroad and he thanked the BBS staff staying back and working in a dedicated manner.

Lyonpo thanked the Indian government and the Indian Embassy for not only the support to BBS and government programs but also the support to resolve many issues that came up during and after the pandemic.

The BBS officiating Chief Engineer Thinley Dorji gave the vote of thanks and thanked the Indian Ambassador, the Foreign Minister for their presence and the support from GoI and RGoB. He also thanked officials from the Indian Embassy and the Ministry of Finance for making the project possible.

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