Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2003 - Bhutan

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 2003
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2003 - Bhutan, 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46e6914821.html [accessed 24 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The king promised in 2002 to reform the national constitution to lead the country towards democracy. But by the end of the year, nothing had changed in the media, which was totally controlled by top palace officials. The only criticism of the regime was to be found on the forum of the official newspaper's Internet website kuenselonline.com.

The exiled Bhutan Journalists Association appealed to King Jigme Singye Wangchuk on 5 June 2002 to introduce freedom of the press, including a press council to guarantee media diversity. The appeal, by 42 journalists, was announced at the Damak refugee camp in Nepal.

Despite the king's liberal policies, including votes for all, the monarchy left little room for diversity of the media, which was entirely state-controlled and in the hands of palace officials. The official weekly Kuensel is published in three languages – English, Dzong-ka and Nepalese. The sole radio station, Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), puts out two daily news bulletins in the country's four languages.

Television and the Internet came to Bhutan in 1999 and have grown hesitantly. The government TV station puts out a daily news programme in two languages but only broadcasts to the capital, Thimphu. But the wealthy can pick up foreign stations by cable and satellite dish.

The sole Internet service provider (ISP), Druknet, provides access for the government and for customers of the country's few cybercafés. The weekly Kuensel has a website in English and criticism of the government can be found in its discussion forum.

The Bhutan ambassador in Switzerland wrote to Reporters Without Borders and said there were no restrictions in the country on publications, foreign TV reception or Internet access, except where pornography was concerned.

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