Assessment of media development in Bhutan

Based on UNESCO's Media Development Indicators

Completed in 2010, the Bhutan Media Development Assessment Report provides a detailed and informed assessment of the Bhutanese media environment with an aim to serve as a framework for evidenced-based intervention. Bhutanese media are active participants in the process of change, creating new realities and sustaining traditional values.

The Assessment follows the introduction of democratic reforms in Bhutan and the rapid increase of media organizations resulting from the liberalization of media policy. It looks at areas of media development, defining issues and challenges that the media industry faces in Bhutan. Moreover, it gives an overview of media consumption in Bhutan, and prioritizes areas of interventions required.

Drafted in partnership with the UNDP and International Media Support, the assessment provides analysis of the media and communications environment in Bhutan against internationally accepted standards and principles.

The assessment found that a liberalized media licensing policy has been effective in encouraging media diversity and de­velopment and that constitutional guarantees exist which give Bhutanese citizens and the media considerable freedom of expression and speech.  However, the study revealed a need to encourage a culture of public discussion by enhancing access to media, especially in rural areas and un­reached populations. The findings also revealed a need for stronger right to information laws to be put in place in order to cre­ate a more transparent democratic system.

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This assessment is based on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators (MDIs), which were endorsed in 2008 by the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). MDIs, which cover all aspects of media development, define a framework within which the media can best contribute to, and benefit from, good governance and democratic development. They are being applied in various countries worldwide to identify their specific needs in view of guiding the formulation of media-related policies and improving the targeting of media development efforts.

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