No middle path for live TV broadcast

Limited use

Limited use

Middlepath (very good nickname) had this to say on my last entry about the National Assembly’s decision to discontinue live TV broadcast for most of its proceedings: “OL and others, please do not abuse the provisions of the Constitution to suit your position on the live telecast. The Constitution says that the proceedings of the NA should be conducted in public but the speaker has the discretion to exclude the press and the pubic from all or any part of the proceedings….(Art 10,15). Public should not be understood as live coverage – it should be understood as open for public observation. In that respect, any one who wishes to observe any session from the public gallery is free to do so…”

This is what Article 10.15 of the Constitution really says: “The proceedings of Parliament shall be conducted in public. However, the Speaker or the Chairperson may exclude the press and the public from all or any part of the proceedings if there is a compelling need to do so in the interests of public order, national security or any other situation, where publicity would seriously prejudice public interest.”

Yes, Middlepath is correct: the Speaker does have “…the discretion to exclude the press and the public from all or any part of the proceedings…” But don’t forget the condition for the Speaker to exercise these powers: “…if there is a compelling need to do so in the interests of public order, national security or any other situation, where publicity would seriously prejudice public interest.”

So the question is would live TV broadcast of the National Assembly proceedings compromise public order and national security? And would it prejudice the public interest? If so, the Speaker can prevent BBS’s live TV broadcast, along with the rest of the media and the public. If not, the Speaker cannot.

By the way, our Honourable Speaker is not responsible for the decision to discontinue the live TV broadcast. It was us, the members of the national assembly. And only two members, both from the opposition, felt that the live TV broadcast should continue. Political analysts will find this odd, because live TV broadcast gives the members of the ruling party disproportionate access to and coverage by the media. So these analysts will ask why then, when the ruling party stands to benefit so much from live TV coverage, are they against it?

With regard to Middlepath’s advice that “public” should not be confused as “live coverage”, he may have a point. But if “public” means “public observation….from the gallery”, it would mean that we are willing to purposely exclude the majority of our population from viewing the proceedings of the Assembly. After all, not many Bhutanese can afford the journey to Thimphu just to observe their parliamentarians. For our people’s sake, for democracy’s sake, let our wider public also participate by viewing the Parliament’s proceedings on BBS’s live telecast.

But there’s still one more issue. Is BBS a part of the press? If so, they may be excluded, along with the rest of the media, from observing all or part of the proceedings, but on condition that their presence undermines the interest of public order or national security. As a matter of fact, TV is part of the press. And live TV coverage is the highest form of news media – viewers get to see and hear events as they really take place, not as others say how they’ve taken place.


Facebook Comments:


  1. But what are the reasons for banning the live coverage? I’m sorry I haven’t seen anything about this except on your site, and I am very curious to know more.

    • What ever the reason may be. I saw the Speaker on the national TV yesterday and his reasoning was not impressive and will not be acceptable at all. At this point of time – HE Prime Minister should step in and revoke this decision and give people the privilegde to watch the NA session live on BBS.

      If not, we are going to run a strike at teh gates of NA hall. Don’t tempt us or don;t dare us. Please understand the situation and our need to see teh NA session live.


    • Middlepath says

      There is no ban! The NAMs thought that it is a waste of resources to have every session covered live on TV. However, improtant sessions of interest such as the opening, PM’s address, anti-corrutption reports and audit reports and discussions will be aired live as well as any other sessions of national interest. Remember, BBS can cover live just now becuase of a grant from a donor – can it do that after the grant is exhausted? Who wants to watch the same people discussing the technicality of passing a bill day after day apart from those who have nothing to do. The proceedings are open to the public 24X7 and will be adequately covered in the news media (both print and audio-visual) at the end of each day. Remember, the DPT is not after popularity – it is being prudent and responsible. The opposition does not have to worry about finances and so it can afford to SOUND generous.

      • Phuntsho says

        you sound like one of those dirty DPT MPs. i say dirty because i voted for DPT and just one year after i trusted you, i am left regretting my decision to vote for you.

        leave it up to BBS to decide whether they can cover live. if they think they can do it today, because as you said, they have donor funding, let them do it. donor fund is time-bound and will not run for eternity. let BBS stop live coverage when they think that they cannot do it anymore. but until such time that BBS enjoy generousity of donor funding, let the public enjoy live coverage and be a passive part of discussions.

        you seem to be concerned with funding, unlike the opposition. however, when it came to your own allowances, including driver’s allowance for driving your own car which you plundered government exchequer to buy it, it did not matter to you. i cannot imagine public figures like you can be double-sided so openly.

        i would like to caution you (DPT) that you are inviting troubles by not taking public concerns into account. for all your actions, you will be held accoutabile, one day!

  2. ya, it is disheartening to know that
    live tv coverage of our NA discussion will be discontinued hereafter.but i m sure all the agendas rsolved in the NA will be published in the papers

  3. Media and the so called ” Vibrant Democracy” should go hand in hand. Free media is a sufficient condition for a sucessful vibrant democracy. In simple words, information is the right of every citizen in the country.

    Would just like to express my opinion on the following two points.

    Well, our politicians in the process not to allow the media (BBS)to make live coverage, seems to use the alibi of their being covered on TV incapacitating them. I would argue, that they being presented live to their voters live should serve as a motivational force and rather inject more enthusiasm and dedication. Unfortunately its the opposite.

    Other thing, as our politicians argue, BBS is incurring huge expenses in presenting the NA live. I argue, this is definitely not an expense rather this is an huge investement. It is the bridge between the people and the government. How can we demolish the bridge.

    BBS not being allowing is totally insane, maybe we should remind our politicians that we are living in a democratic country and not an authoritarian regime. If not BBC, we should invite the BBC.

    Politicians please be reminded that it is upto the Media – to cover or not to cover, not you.

    Hon’ble OL please try to stop this.

  4. Mr. Viewer says

    “Where is the freedom of press”
    I think there is no harm in making the public aware of our National discussions. More over in a young democratic country if we start mobilizing the opaque situation of discussion and matters of Natioal beings its sad that where will our nation be in a decade. We feel that all national discussions are in concern and for the welfare of the public and if the public is in a state of hazzyness, its a pity to seek a vibrant democratic nation.
    As we understand in a “democratic county” media is the fourth form of government, where transparency and accountability are activated.
    If this is the case where there is no live telecast of the Assembly, its a pity to see that our dear politicians weak in expressing and making the public aware of the matters discussed. Because after all all matters are as said for the welfare of the public and we nominated our dear politicians attending it reliable and accountable for what they say and agree. More over it should be transparent to acknowledge our politician who contributes to the national discussions and agreement on behalf of us and should also be aware of those representing us just to observe the discussions.
    Finally to have a strong and vibrant democracy its at the denote of our dear politicians at the implementation level. And on the other side we feel that its fair and justice to make it transparent but not on the acount of disrupting any issue or any representatives but to be aware of the situations.
    In Bhutan so far as seen Media is abit weak where for example the media awards being organized in support of the government where the public and private are secure enough to do so by our self. Transparency has to be made clear early enough to build a strong unity of a vibrant democracy rather than passing down discussions and approvals without the notice of the public.
    So we think that what our OL and the team disagreeing to this weak reason of opiaque situation of the national discussion is very true.
    We would be happy if it is made go live as it is in any other nations. Even a small discussion of the parliament is made public but at such a major event of the nation if such an event is’nt made transparent its a pity to see and hear our dear politicians avoiding the public. We have faith in you so we nominated you to represent us and we are satisfied at what level you contribute on our behalf but lets be fair enough to have it visible to us the dear public at all length of the nation who can’t make it to attend.

  5. Middle path – it is people like you and DTP that is abusing the constitution. Why don’t you reply to OL? You half quoted the constitution… should be ashamed. Maybe you are one of the few people who are benefiting from DPT……are you?

    • Middlepath says

      Thinley, the constitution is there for you to read not for me to read all of it to you. It is hardcore PDP supporters like you who are making so much noise about something so straight forward. There is no BAN of live coverage in the first place as you make it sound. If you are prepared to cover the cost of BBS going live every day, why not?

      • I have read the constitution and please don’t give me apple when I ask for orange. It was you who half quoted the constitution. No one is asking you to read it for us. Looks like DPT is becoming famous for doing things half-done 🙂

        Well, First – I voted for DPT which I very much regreat.

        Second, it is not me who said that there will be no live coverage. I learned that from kuensel.

        So it comes down to cost!

        If cost is an issue, DPT is telling us that the cost for all these allowance for MP’s cars is unavoidable, but cost for live BBC coverage is expensive and somthing we can cut off….

        Is that the message? Why should I, an individual cover the cost for live streaming of BBC? I have rights to view live debate (on government’s cost) unless it concerns national security.

      • A lot of people, in fact everyone who can, makes it a point to watch BBS during the sessions. Then why cuut it out? A lot of things cost money. Medicine, education, food. Right to information is just as important. This is not about PDP or DPT. ´This is about every Bhutanese person’s right to access to information. Everyone will have a separate area of interest in the NA, they will want to know what their MPs are saying, and if they are raising the issues that they promised they would during the campaigning. It is important becasue it enables the people to make an informed decision about whether to vote for the MP again. We voted for them, we gave them the job of running the government and taking up issues that concern us. We want to know if they are doing it. We have every right to. We are on the verge of passing the right to information act, and it talks about enabling information to be accessible to all so that people dont have to seek information in the first place. But thats just a lod of **** if there are also bans on live coverage of the assembly. You say important issues will be covered. But who will decide what is important and what is not? BBS, the viewers, or the MPs? Democracy is not a joke. We want to make it work in our country. And we all need to watch everything. there should not be any need to hide anything. We are too small, too inexperienced,a nd also too undamaged as yet. we can still save ourselves from the mess the world is in. we just need to be smart, and not let the elected people rule. after all, in a democracy, the people’s role is not just to vote. we vote, and we make sure that the people we chose do everything as perfectly as possible. and we question everything, analyse everything, rethink everything. that is the only way to go.

      • Middlepath says

        Are you saying that you voted for DPT so that they can do whatever you think should be done? If you think it is so great to be an MP, why don’t you stand for elections? You know that you don’t have a chance nor have the guts to take any risk. Yes, you have the right to watch any thing you like at your own cost but not at the cost of public fund. Do you know, how much it costs to entertain people like you who have nothing better to do whole day than to watch TV? For us, it is more important to use the money for building a road or providing safe drinking water to our rural people. So, all I can say is, next time round vote for PDP (which you did any way last time too)since your lot belong there and not in DPT.

      • Middlepath – you are amusing me now. Why are you so divisive? Common, like most peole here says this is about our courty and about our rights and nothing to do with PDP or DTP.

        I voted for DPT because thy had better vision (esuity and justice). I never said it is great to be an MP. Please don’t make any assumptions and don’t go off the topic. I don’t believe that one must become an MP to serve the country. To become an MP is a matter of choice and not smoething to do with having courage or confidence. It has also nothing to do with risk – it is all to do with passion and one should not stop standing for MP just because of risks involved.

        I know live TV is expensive, but in the bigger scheme of things this is something that cannot be compromised. NA live telecats is something people look forward to.

        For me, access to information and better communication is as important as building road and schools.

      • Middlepath….u sound like a MP. Why hide under a nick a pass coments. Please give ur real name.

  6. BBS boycott the inaugural session and so the print protest


  7. Linda wangmo says

    If there are no live telecasr of the proceedings, I hrge all my brothers and sisters to come to the NA hall. We will than see if all of us fits in the hall.

    • I was dazzled by the responses of the OL today as opposed to that of the Speakers which was thrown in as half cooked, half boiled & half hearted. I am not a fan of PDP or OL but I am slowly seeing the depth of the OL. What a show tonight on the national TV. I vote for OL to be the speaker after this term. Anyway, speaker trying to say that the Bhutanese people will not understand the proceedings is utter BS. I think our Bhutanese public will be far more superior in analyzing the debates than most of the MP’s in the NA who initiated this ban of live coverage. If one is worried about cost of the BBS covering it live, then it is a lame excuse. Imagine the magnitude of benefit for sharing everything with public in a very transparent manner. I just hope the National council will not follow suit with this decision. Itwill be pathetic if NC does the same.

      I AGREE WITH CNN’S COMMENT THAT LYONCHEN might be able to revert this decision to ban live coverage. I pray that he will see genuine logic behind this protests we teh citizens of Bhutan are making and that he will revoke the decision.


      • although m certainly not speaker’s fan,i would like to question whether it is fair to blame him alone for discontinuing live broadcast….i think even OL clarified that it is not his command, rather it is the will of majority…he might agree with the honorable OL, but his hands are tied and he will have to go with the majority…by the way, i know that the majority is completely wrong! …he was just conveying whatever MPs justified for their stand…so should we blame him alone or all???

  8. How shocking and disheartening to know that there won’t be Live coverage. Only two MP speaking against it…with the whole nation behind them, unheard though. How long will this deaf-play work? When we like Live coverage why should it be banned? Speaker’s reasons are all lame, in fact his statements are underestimating the integrity of the MPs as mere actors before cameras. What ever may be on the minds of the Mps, let it be second to what is on the people’s mind. We don’t want the ban, which not only disheartens the nation but also insults the divine idea of democracy and freedom of media, as OL states this evening on BBS (23/6/09).

  9. Yes, BBS may cover important days, and the days that just drag on without anything solid coming out is to be excluded. But this is not a great idea, because we get the feeling sometimes that we are wasting precious time talking about nothing at all. It would help if the MPs are aware that everyone is watching, then they would speed up and not just beat around the bush, which unfortunately they already do. We are passing important laws here, and everyone needs to see exactly what is going on. The democractic government is an experiment which everyone wants sucessful results of, and its our government, we want to be a part of everything, we dont care how things are being done elsewhere. That MPs act like actors in front of TV is no excuse. That they decided they dont want to be seen says a lot. But we must have a say, and we dont find it acceptable that while the government talks of transparency, they also cut out live coverage. Newspapers cannot cover every little aspect, and its about time we took TV seriously, as a media not as a fifteen minutes of fame thing for people who use it when it suits them. The reason for cutting out live coverage is just not satisfactory.

  10. This is absolute Communism. Not fair, not fair at all. They are discussing our lives and future in that closed door of the Parliament and they want to hide it from us? Something is wrong.
    Ofcourse, there will be a report after the session, but it will be only what they want us to know. For God’s sake, what’s wrong with broadcasting it live on TV?

    • What do you mean by ‘absolute communism’? My friend, there is a huge difference, all the difference in the world, between communism and totalitarianism. Read Marx, read Trotsky, read Engels and get to know what communism is. Don’t pour your knowledge about communism, which you seemingly got from he western media here. It is such a GREAT compliment or reward to have absolute communism in any country. Before you make such senseless comments here, why don’t you take a break, study, and come back fresh.

      • Hey doubt,
        Are you sure communism being great and all?? I don’t think you need to read lots of books to know about communism. Look at any country who follow the idealogy of communism and how they are fairing today and you will get the answer. I’m surprised you even participated in this debate because democracy and communism just simply do not jell. Although I would admit that in theory communism is good but if you have to put it into practice it really and truly sucks big big time.

  11. ok, will it make any difference that many people out here are not happy with the DPT MP’s decision not to provide full live coverage? some are pleading and others are very angry and many have given up. No matter how much we raise our voice, this decision is not going to change. but one simple question to the DPT govt. why is it becoming very diffult for you to listen to the bhutan mass?

  12. Its a forum blesssed by our god kings to all the citizens of the country.Actually, by constitutional rights,every citizen of Bhutan has the right to attend this National Assembly. Since each and every citizenry of the country cannot attend/accomodate in such a national forum, the public has elected their representatives on their behalf to represent them while they will be observing/commenting,supporting them through possible medias like Live TV, Live Radio Broadcast etc and ofcourse by attending personally if possible.I always take leave to observe Live NA session, this time too, I alrady have plans; my parents, relatives and other interested people that are not access to live TV back in the village have already arrived here to witness the live NA.Many more would have arrived/planning to be in the places where TV facilities are available.

    1. Its a public forum, and Public should decide whether NA session needs Live TV broadcast and not unilaterally by the DPT government.
    2. Next time BBS panel discussion should ask the public whether Live TV broadcast is rewuired and not the parliamentary or the speaker or any other elected public representatives

  13. Right path says

    Maybe HM can declare emeergency ruling and suspend the parliament, so that DPT fools can drive their Yaris to wherever they came from.

  14. Decision of not having live coverage of NA session is really the rule of tyranny after so much protest from the public. This is not democracy, I am sure the people who elected our leaders are interested to see how our leaders are voicing our interests and concerns. Please our PM , look into the matter once again and reconsider it rather than listening to those dormant MPs who got elected just by your(PM) popularity. I guess this decision would have been from those stupid MPs who have never voiced anything and even if they have done they have just spoken to say “japchor yoe” means I support this statement and nothing more than that. I think if some of those MPs are asshamed of this for not being able to speak. You need to do more home work and learn some facts and figures of what is happening in our country then only you will be able to talk if not you all land up saying all those dzongkha proverbs as already some MPs are doing it.

    And our Speaker please dont assume that our people will not understand what is happening in the NA, for your information many of our people are far better than many of your MPs. Then I was wondering why our Speaker didnt turn for BBS Live Forum yesterday evening along with the OL. One thing I observed so far is that many times our DPT responsible MPs, esp. the ministers and PM himself refused to attend the BBS live discussion forum. Any Reasons???

  15. I seriously feel that the BBS should be allowed to cover the NA sessions LIVE.

    Middle path said “BBS can cover live just now becuase of a grant from a donor – can it do that after the grant is exhausted? Who wants to watch the same people discussing the technicality of passing a bill day after day apart from those who have nothing to do. The proceedings are open to the public 24X7 and will be adequately covered in the news media (both print and audio-visual) at the end of each day.”

    I am thinking middle path is a member of our esteemed national assembly who do not want to look stupid in front of the camera. Otherwise, ask the guys at BBS about the coverage. As it is, BBS has an Out Door Broadcasting Van which has been (up to a large extend) used only for the live coverage of the NA. The van has been a grant but will not be taken back after a period of time. It is here to stay and give us the coverages. I don’t understand what other extra costs will inccur in this coverage. The staff will have to be paid…whether or not…they cover the NA, The equipments are not hired… BBS has already put in place…infrastructures (state of the art) that will enable them to broadcast and the best reward for the guys at BBS…Viewership ratings will sky rocket. (i could go on and on…on the advantages of the BBS to air the live NA sessions..but will stop here for now.) Just in case you are all wondering…I worked for the BBS TV right from the start and how desperate we were then to start the first Live Telecast of our National assembly with the minimum equipment that we had at our disposal. We covered it succesfully. Now I am no more with BBS…They have improved on the broadcasting equipment with the new TV center to do an even more better job. All the Best to BBS.

    I would sincerely request all our MPs to consult BBS and listen to the voices of the general public and make a decision.

    and ya…to middlepath…I want to watch the same people discussing the technicality of passing a bill day after day, because I selected them from others…WE selected them from the others…and WE shall watch them to make an informed and better choice next time around.

    Thank you your excellency OL for this forum. Tashi Delek.

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