Media: The Information Communications and Media Bill 2016 empowers the information and communications minister to establish a Film Commission that will be responsible for promotion, development and providing support to the audio-visual and film industry.

The Bill has been referred to the legislative committee of the National Assembly for review and will be tabled for deliberation in the next parliament session. The bill seeks to repeal the Bhutan Information Communications and Media Act 2006.

Introducing the Bill in the recently concluded Assembly session, information and communications minister DN Dhungyel said the existing Act had to be revised to suit the changing times. “I hope the Act will enhance timely service delivery to people in information, communication and media sectors,” he said.

The commission will be responsible for training and capacity development and promotion of theatrical performances. The commission will be empowered to grant filming permits, but only after obtaining location or sector clearances as may be required within a specified time period and for which the sector concerned shall ensure timely issuance of clearances.

The commission is proposed to be funded by government support, royalties and international donors and agencies, among others.

According to the Bill, the government shall ensure, as far as practicable, that the commission is adequately financed to enable it to exercise its functions and discharge its responsibilities as provided.

The commission shall be constituted with five members appointed by the Cabinet upon recommendation by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) from amongst people who are knowledgeable in the field of film, media or people from relevant backgrounds.

Members of the commission will elect a chairperson from among its members. The Cabinet is empowered to remove a member of the commission.

A secretariat of the commission headed by an executive who shall be the legal representative of the commission will be established. The executive and other employees of the commission will be appointed by the Royal Civil Service Commission.

The Bill proposes for the establishment of a Film Development Fund to support the production of innovative and meaningful films. The fund will be managed by the commission.

The corpus of the fund that will be managed directly by the commission will be constituted through government funding, donor grants and existing film endowments. The producer, owner or importer of every film, which is intended for public exhibition by any mode of ICT or media within Bhutan, will be required to submit a copy of the film for examination by the commission.

A film intended for public exhibition should not be advertised to the general public through any medium before the grant of a certificate by the commission, according to the Bill. The certificate holder for each film shall also ensure that all advertising material for the film carries the appropriate certification mark as specified in the rules and regulations.

Any person who is aggrieved by an order of the commission will be allowed to submit an appeal to the Appellate Tribunal. The tribunal may pass such orders as it thinks fit, confirming, modifying or reversing the decision of the commission and may make further orders as to costs in relation to any appeal.

MB Subba