In the ongoing case regarding the broadcasting of clippings from the film Hema Hema, the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) rebutted yesterday that the charges by the Bhutan Info-Comm Media Authority’s (BICMA) be dismissed.

BICMA alleged that BBS failed to pay the fine 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. It has charged BBS for broadcasting clippings of the film that was not certified by BICMA, for disseminating incorrect information and for misinforming and misleading the public.

Further, it alleged that BBS continued to misinform the public by broadcasting the news on its radio and uploading it on its website despite its notice.

BBS was imposed a fine of Nu 224,625 for failing to abide by its directives to pay penalties. BBS’s lawyer Sonam Choden said that BICMA should prove how its news story misled and misinformed the public through the alleged incorrect information. BBS had also tried to obtain comments from BICMA before broadcasting the story and reported that the authority was not available for comments.

“Without proper scrutiny of the content of news, judging it misleading and imposing monetary fines is abuse of authority,” the lawyer said. She said that BICMA misled the court by misinterpreting its press release as opinion of the newspapers. After BBS broadcast the news, she alleged that the authority had issued a press release the next to newspapers except BBS, where it stated that the BBS news story was untrue.

The case also revolves around charges of conflict of interest on the part of BICMA being both a media regulator and a complainant. BICMA lawyer Chencho Wangmo said it was implementing section 27 (3) of the BICMA Act 2006 and the code of ethics for journalists.

While BICMA alleged that BBS had advertised the uncertified movie clips, BBS argued that it was done so to inform and not promote the movie.

The rebuttal repeated the charges and counter charges BBS had filed. The lawyer asked the court to penalise BICMA for misusing its authority and trying to arbitrate a case that is evidently a case of conflict of interest, and giving false and misleading information to the court with regard to section 111 (1), the agreement on September 2, 2016.

“This section is only applicable to film makers and certificate holder of films and not to broadcasters, and secondly it relates to advertising and publicity of films that have not received BICMA certification,” she said.

BBS also asked the court to make BICMA pay compensation for harassing the corporation and obstructing it from fulfilling its mandate of informing the public. It sought the court to instruct BICMA not to impede and obstruct the news organisation from carrying out it mandate.

BICMA will rebut on May 4.

Tshering Palden