Companies could warm to the idea if the govt. were to provide incentives

MOAB: The Media Owners Association of Bhutan (MOAB) is considering a merger of private media companies.

The association wrote a letter to the prime minister on the idea after a meeting of members on January 27.  The idea of merging media companies was suggested by the prime minister himself during a meeting with the association on January 20.

On Tuesday, the association, with its members, discussed the idea, but a majority of them were skeptical of the idea.  The members felt that the merger was not economically feasible, given the huge loans individual firms had, the losses, and over ownership and editorial issues.

However, there was general consensus that companies would show more interest in a merger, if the government provided some incentives.

In the letter to the prime minister, the association put forward three conditions that could make the merger more practicable for the companies.  The first was if the government could put a seven-year moratorium on issuing any more media licenses.  The reason was the association feared that new companies would come into the market after the merger.

The second was if the government could transfer the existing high interest loans from banks to lower interest loans like that of the Business Opportunity and Information Centre.  The third condition was a one-time grant from the government to help with the costs and technical difficulties of the merger.

The president of MOAB, Tenzing Lamsang, said that, if the government could provide the three incentives, there would be a few companies, which would be interested in merging.

Meanwhile, MOAB is working on registering itself as a civil society organisation (CSO). “The association’s main focus at the moment is to get a CSO status. Hopefully, within the next three to four months, we can expect a call,” Tenzing Lamsang said.

MOAB was formed on January 6 this year.  Currently the association has 14 media houses as its members that includes 10 newspapers and four radio stations.  The association’s objective is to look after the sustainability and economic issues concerning the private media, and also media in general.

By Younten Tshedup