BhutanInfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) handed over the responsibility of licensing of places of entertainment to the economic affairs ministry on June 28. The move is in accordance with the Information, Communications and Media (ICM) Act of Bhutan 2018.

According to chapter five of the ICM Act, places of entertainment include movie halls, dance halls, discotheques, music halls, gaming parlours, public houses, bars equipped with facilities for live or recorded music, drayangs, luyangs, hospitality lounges, video or computer gaming arcades, circuses, magic shows, fetes, concerts, fairs, carnivals, wrestling bouts, sporting events, bingo halls and any other similar forms of entertainments. “Ministry of Economic Affairs shall be the licensing authority for the establishment of places of entertainments.”

BICMA handed over the documents and information such as the list of entertainment licenses issued in each dzongkhags, database on the licensing system, relevant regulatory documents and the list of licenses not renewed or suspended due to non compliance.

The documents also included two directives – the freeze of issuance of drayang license in Thimphu thromde since July 2009 and the suspension of issuance of new entertainment licenses in Thimphu thromde since December last year.

Director general of BICMA, Chencho Dorji, said that issuance of license in Thimphu was suspended as there are many licenses in Thimphu and said that it was up to the ministry to keep or lift the suspension.

He said that the responsibility for entertainment establishment is going to the right organisation with the right manpower and resources. “It will be more efficient as the ministry has more resources and regional offices.”

He added that the ministry could approach the authority for any assistance and clarifications on issues related to licenses.

Economic affairs ministry will now be responsible for licensing, monitoring, complaint and compliance of places of entertainment. However, processes of licensing, and the rules and regulations would remain the same.

Director general of department of cottage and small industries, Tandin Tshering said that it is only the licensing mandate that has been transferred and that all the other process would remain the same. “We are in the process of aligning the ministry’s mandate with the same rules and regulations. There will be no divergence.”

Respective dzongkhag or thromde Entertainment licensing Committee (ELC) would still review and recommend the license applications for entertainment establishments centres.

Appreciating the efforts put in by BICMA, Tandin Tshering said that BICMA has made it easier for the ministry to implement by putting the regulatory mechanism and streamlining the system. “Unlike the past, we have acts and regulations to derive our power from.”

He said that BICMA has not only put the rules and regulations in place but has also revised it based on experiences and prevailing best practices.

There are about 400 places of entertainment in the country. Thimphu has the highest with 154 licenses, and Gasa and Lhuentse the lowest with one each.

Karma Cheki