Private TV

During the Presidential debate a party President said that he burned two applications for a private TV station saying allowing such a thing would harm democracy in Bhutan.

This point has been picked up by some other candidates to score political points during the ongoing debates.

However, it is strange and puzzling how the establishment of a local private TV channel should be such a political hot potato.

This is when we get dozens of foreign news and entertainment channels, not to mention social media.

The party President and a few others argue that the current status of having just BBS as a state broadcaster is good enough.

The debate point exposes the overall hostility and distrust of the governance system in Bhutan towards the private sector.

It exposes the flawed mindset of public servants who feel that only they are the honest ones and only they serve the government.

In any other country having just one state broadcaster with no competition will be a poor sign of media freedom and diversity, but in Bhutan that is taken as a badge of pride.

It was not long ago that Kuensel was the only newspaper, but the entry of private newspapers has improved the news environment for better and also made Kuensel improve.

The same will happen for BBS unless parties don’t want BBS to improve through competition.

If the logic of the private TV is taken to its conclusion then the government should shut down all private newspapers and also all private radio stations.

Political parties can write long manifestos promising the sun and the moon to the private sector, but nothing will change when the attitude and mindset itself is distrusting of the private sector.

This is not reserved for one or two parties but is a problem across parties.

I think competition always produces better results than a monopoly.
Beto O’Rourke

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