Nima Wangdi

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that the rule mandating at least a one-page Dzongkha insert in every private English newspaper has not helped to promote and develop the Dzongkha language in the country.

He said that the government discussed the issue with the then Ministry of Information and Communications and the private newspapers, following which the requirement was discontinued.

Lyonchhen said that the government would support the only private Dzongkha newspaper and Kuensel to bring out quality news stories in Dzongkha.

This is in the interest of the people who can read only Dzongkha, he added.

Lyonchhen said that the requirement only added cost to the newspapers.

According to Lyonchhen, some private newspapers resorted to publishing Namthar (religious biographies), as the rule required a Dzongkha insert.

It was mandatory for the English newspapers in the country to publish a Dzongkha edition, according to a policy directive from Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) while issuing a licence. BICMA issued licence to the private newspapers on the condition that the English newspapers must publish a Dzongkha edition with an independent Dzongkha editorial team.

“Discontinuation of Dzongkha inserts doesn’t mean that Dzongkha is not important,” he said. “We must resort to other ways to promote Dzongkha.”

Office of the Prime Minister took this bold decision recently following the repeated requests by the private English newspapers to discontinue the Dzongkha insert.

There are five private English newspapers—Bhutan Times, Bhutan Today, Business Bhutan, The Bhutanese, and The Journalist.

BICMA issued a notification on the discontinuation of the Dzongkha insert on December 23 last year.