Open field irks early applicants

Published on Sep 17 2011 // Media Monitor

The authority’s decision to entertain all comers upsets some who’ve been waiting long in line

Private TV Broadcasters 17 September, 2011 – The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority’s decision to allow an open licensing system for private television broadcasting services has left some earlier applicants unhappy.

One of the first applicants, the managing director of Radio High, Ugyen Tenzin, said the decision is not fair to those who applied about a year ago.

“Introducing a private TV station in Bhutan was my idea and why should it be opened to all?” he said.

He said BICMA should have informed them earlier about the fees and the licensing system it wanted to have.

“Coming up with the proposal is an expensive affair and, when it’s opened to all, I feel my hard work has gone to waste,” he said.

The managing director of White Pigeon courier service, Chokey Gyeltshen, and his co-partner Nidup Dorjikss, is another applicant for the TV license.

Chokey Gyeltshen claims to have applied nine months ago, and said he was surprised to see the news on BICMA’s decision to open the floor to all.

“The decision seems to favour the rich,” he said. “And I feel BICMA needs to review its decision.”

Both Ugyen Tenzin and Chokey Gyeltshen, who claim to have waited for months, are wondering why they have to “reapply” for the TV licenses.

“How we manage the money is our problem,” they said. “The authority has control only over the content.”

But the owner of Gaseng Audio Visual, Kinley Wangchuk, who claimed to have also applied for a TV license nine months ago, did not see any problem with BICMA’s decision.

“Since there are only two months to submit the expression of interest, no one will be able to prepare to compete with us,” he said. “I’m glad it has come through finally.”

BICMA is however standing by its decision. The authority said the earlier applicants would have to reapply in a detailed format, as prescribed in the expression of interest pack.

Keeping it open to all does not mean the earlier applicants won’t be granted the license.

The authority however prefers the “unhappy” applicants to write to them officially about their grievances and discuss the issue.

BICMA started accepting applications for private television stations from September 15. So far one company has shown its interest, while none of the earlier five have approached BICMA.

By Tempa Gyeltshen in Kuensel