Development of third tier of broadcasting community radio in Bhutan
Media in Bhutan has undergone considerable growth after the establishment of democracy in 2008. Today, mass communication in Bhutan encompasses both traditional and New Media technologies, ranging from newspapers, radio and TV to mobile phones and the internet. According to a UNESCO-supported Media Development Assessment (MDA) conducted in Bhutan in 2010, there are vital elements missing in the media landscape which need to be addressed. These include policy and legal frameworks to support the growth of media; Right to Information laws to ensure transparency and good governance; Fiscal and infrastructural incentives to encourage the growth of media; and enabling spectrum and licensing policies for electronic media.
According to the MDA (2010) “Community media is a new idea in Bhutan and, to this end, the only community media is a radio that has been licensed to Sherubtse College”. The Sherubtse campus radio is one of just half a dozen private FM radio stations in Bhutan. There are no separate laws and regulations for community radio in Bhutan. It is therefore important to recognize community radio as the third tier of broadcasting (along with public service and commercial radio), as a unique, not-for-profit sector in terms of licensing, but also in terms of the vital role it plays in democratization and equity, and to counterbalance the commercialization of media. This project aims to: Conduct feasibility studies for the establishment of community radio and pilot a few community radio stations; formulate policies and regulations for creating an enabling environment for community media based on the study; and encourage and collaborate with civil society organizations, including local communities, in an effort to promote community media.