Information and Communications minister Karma Donnen Wangdi has said the government will provide ex-country training opportunities for about 292 media professionals during the 12th Plan as part of its media development programme.

He was responding to a question from Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji during the question hour on January 4 on the government’s plans to help the ailing media industry. He cited lack of financial and human resources as an obstacle for the media in effectively fulfilling their role.

Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi also said that the government would provide internship for 279 media professionals within the country.

During the 12th Plan, he said that the government would provide a printing subsidy of Nu 2.609M, which will cover 50 percent of the printing cost. Another Nu 3M will be provided as content development grant, he added.

Highlighting the state’s financial assistance to media houses, Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi said that the past two governments had allocated a total of Nu 23.5 million (M) to print and broadcast media houses.

He said that government also supported media houses in development of software for Dzongkha, capacity development trainings, workshops, study tours and content development grants and procurement of equipment.

“We all are well aware of the importance of the media sector. In our country, we consider media as the fourth estate,” he said, adding that the government would continue to provide its support to the media.

According to him, the Swiss Agency for Development Corporation and the UN Democracy Fund provided Journalist Association of Bhutan (JAB) Nu 6M and Nu 8.7M respectively from 2016 to 2018.

The government Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi said invested Nu 600,000 for the establishment of JAB and that it has been providing financial support for annual JAB awards.

He said labour ministry has also provided both long-term and short-term trainings in India, Australia and  Europe for 20 individuals from various media organisations.

“Our biggest plan is  to implement  the  Information and Communication Act 2018. While implementing this  Act, we are planning to establish  a  Media Council. The  media council will serve as  a independent body to provide help to the media,” he said.

The Bartsha-Shongphu MP in his follow up question however, added that the governments should come in the form of policy intervention. “The government must come up with a policy plan to create a better environment for the media,” he said.

The information and communication minister added that the media would benefit from implementation of the existing policies.

Staff Reporter