By Sangay Rabten
Media is considered the fourth pillar of democracy. The fourth pillar ensures that all people even living in far off areas of the country are informed what’s happening in the country. Media ensure transparency in the working of all the other systems.
Over the years, Media in Bhutan have become more active. Beside Bhutan Broadcasting Service and Kuensel Corporation Ltd, being the national news providers, there are few other print media and private radios. These media houses make the masses aware of various social, political and economical activities around us. It is like mirror which shows the bare truth and harsh realities of life.
All journalists should follow code of ethics and maintain ABCD (Accuracy, Balance, Credibility and Depth) of journalism. However, it seems there is broad consensus that media houses in Bhutan are politically biased. It seems that some political party uses media house as their platform to promote their agenda.
Bhutan Broadcasting Service’s Managing Director, Tshering Wangchuk said that different people will have different views. He said, “Media are regularly checked and updated. As of now, I find all media houses are fair and not politically biased.”
Former editor of Kuensel, Ugyen Penjor said media plays an important role in elections and are answerable to the public for their action. “I feel some newspapers are aligned to political parties. This you can judge from the coverage,” he said. “If one paper dedicates six pages out of 12 to a particular party and the rest six divided among other parties, international and local news, where is the fairness,” he said. “The action of some media could lead to losing credibility of all media.”
The editor of The Bhutanese, Tenzing Lamsang said “It’s the importance of rightness but not the balance.” He said that political parties expect to be treated equally but it cannot be substantiated with false equivalences.
Editor of The Journalist Rinchen Dorji said, “We don’t know about others but we are not. We do not serve government; we serve the state. Politicians and people tag media houses for being politically biased. It is because of the news that we cover. But one party has nothing to write about, and if there is another where we find a lot to write about, people say we support. If we write a story bringing out corruption case of a party; we are termed as supporter of other parties. It is the thought process of people which is biased but not the media.”
President of People’s Democratic Party, Dasho Tshering Tobgay said, “As per the law, media houses are not allowed to be biased. However, there are chances of seeming, that medias are biased by some reporters.” He shared the view that because of some reporter’s like towards the manifesto of particular party, there could be chances of biasness as we are not enlightened but in over all, its good now.
President of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho said, “Apart from one or two main stream medias, most of the media houses are balanced.’’
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s President, (Dr.) Lotey Tshering said, “Besides critical analysis and critical reporting is appreciated, some media reporters are biased but not as a whole.” He added that some politicians may politicize and there is thin detection of biasness.
Meanwhile, readers or audience have different views. Rigden Wangmo from Samtse said, “It seems that some media houses are politically biased.” Lhatu (name changed) said that some mainstream media do favour some political parties. “Media being politically biased is not a good precedent as a watch-dog. It should support all equally as its is the most important ethics of media.”
Media Arbitrator, Dr Chador Wangdi said that they monitor the media regularly and that so far there has been no issue of media houses being politically biased. Head of the Election Department, Sonam Tobgyal said that till now there wasn’t any case of political biased media, though there was a case during the National Council election. He said, “Media should take responsibility to promote institution of democracy and understand that its independent institution.” He also added that in case if there is issue of political biasness in media houses, Election Commission of Bhutan have mechanism to deal with it.
While Bhutan Kuen-nyam Party did not respond to our call.