Conflict: The Thimphu dzongkhag court conducted a miscellaneous hearing of a case Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) filed against Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) on January 25.

The media regulator pointed out that BBS failed to pay the fines and penalties it imposed for airing a story on the movie “Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait” on December 21 last year.

BICMA claimed that BBS, while covering the news just presented a one-sided view and did not consult with them.

BBS was also alleged of broadcasting clippings of the film, which has not been certified by BICMA, disseminating incorrect information and misinformed and misled the public.

BICMA imposed on BBS a fine of Nu 224,625 for failing to abide by its directives to pay penalties and for misinforming and instigating the public by providing incorrect information and a one-sided story.

BBS refused to pay the fines, stating it shall seek the intervention of an independent authority for arbitration if the issue is not resolved.

BBS refuted all the charges made by BICMA.

BBS managing director, Tshering Wangchuk, in an earlier interview with Kuensel, said BBS tried to contact BICMA for two days but did not get a response before they aired the particular news.

BICMA submitted before the court that even though BICMA is authorised to suspend and cancel the license of BBS, they are seeking the court’s intervention for the public interest.

A majority chunk of the fine imposed on BBS is for violating section 111 (1) of the BICMA Act, 2006, which states: “No film intended for public exhibition shall be advertised to the general public though any medium before the grant of a certificate by the Authority.”

Meanwhile, the whole issue emerged after BBS covered the story on December 21 about the film not being allowed to screen.

BICMA then issued a clarification to media houses on December 23 claiming the movie was not barred from screening but that the National Films Review Board has forwarded it to home ministry’s Department of Culture for review.

BICMA, however, issued a letter to the producer of the film on January 10 this year stating that the film cannot be screened in the country because the characters in the film used religious masks.

BICMA claimed that the use of religious masks was not in keeping with the country’s tradition and culture.

The case is registered with the civil bench of the court.

Tashi Dema