Chhimi Dema

The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) has stopped Samuh, an over-the-top media platform live stream a reality show on Samuh App and website.

Samuh’s chief executive officer, Nyema Zam, said that BICMA informed and wrote to them that “live broadcasting is beyond the scope of OTT license.”

She said that Samuh is live streaming and not broadcasting the reality show. “We are still discussing with BICMA and will have further discussions.”

Until the matter is resolved, the reality show Voice of Bhutan Season Five will be live streamed on its YouTube channel and Samuh’s Facebook page.

“We are not sure why this is being imposed. If it is not in Samuh’s scope of licensing then how can this be allowed?” Nyema Zam said.

Samuh on their Facebook page wrote: “We are currently in discussion with BICMA to understand why a licensed local OTT platform is not allowed to LIVE stream while all kinds of local reality singing shows and events are allowed to LIVE stream on Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms.”

Nyema Zam said: “We hope that in the coming week we will be able to sit with BICMA and resolve this.”

BICMA in the financial year 2021 to 2022 issued five reality show permits.

Previously, the reality shows were broadcast on Bhutan Broadcasting Services (BBS) Channel Two.

However, after BBS issued, in May­, new terms of reference for reality shows due to issues surrounding exploiting the participants and failing to disclose the voting amount­, show organisers turned to social media platforms.

According to BICMA’s Guidelines on Licensing of OTT services, OTT platforms providing video or audio streaming services shall ensure that the streaming of films certified by the National Film Commission; films, all music and video clips, serials and documentaries reviewed as per the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the film commission.

An official from BICMA said that live streaming was “simply not in their [Samuh’s] scope of license terms and conditions”.