BBS and the government

Enough protection?

Last week, Parliament authorized the government to review the mandate of BBS. I’m against the government meddling in BBS’s affairs. But our lawmakers feel that the country’s only TV station is underperforming. And that the government should intervene to give BBS vision and the means to achieve that vision.

So what’s the first move that the government makes? It directs BBS to go 24/7. And it does so without consulting anyone in BBS. Our national broadcaster struggles to generate sufficient content for the five hours it goes on air each day, and the government, unilaterally, directs BBS to broadcast round the clock. This directive does not augur well for television in Bhutan.

BBS is essentially a non-commercial public service broadcaster. So the state should subsidize its operations. How much? That, the government should decide.

But the government should not interfere in how BBS is run. That is the job of the Managing Director and the Board of Directors – ultimately they are the ones responsible for ensuring that BBS is able to inform, educate and entertain our people, and for protecting its editorial independence.

And that, precisely, was the reason why BBS was delinked from the government in the first place. The Royal Kasho establishing BBS as an autonomous corporation was issued way back on 18 September 1992. But its message is timeless. In fact, it’s even more relevant today. So, to remind ourselves, I’m reproducing the translation of that Royal Kasho: [Continue Reading…]

Royal decree

I see two important points in His Majesty the King’s kasho instituting the Royal Commission and outlining the process to establish the first Supreme Court of Bhutan.

The first is that the delay in establishing the Supreme Court was deliberate. It was meant to make the “… new democratic institutions learn to work together in harmony, and with unity of purpose, in the interest of the Nation and People.”

The second is that, His Majesty the King has devolved his authority and created an even more transparent process of establishing the Supreme Court. Though Article 21, Section 4 of the Constitution authorizes the Druk Gyalpo to appoint the Chief Justice of Bhutan in consultation with the National Judicial Commission, His Majesty’s kasho empowers the Royal Commission to recommend “…one person to assume the post of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”