Local cable television operators will restrict airing school concerts to only two hours a day. The authority, Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), has found the content “annoying and monotonous”.

The two-hour programme, mostly students dancing to rigsar (new), Bollywood or western and Korean pop music will have to be approved by schools. The rule is a little too late and we will see some reacting for depriving them from seeing their children on the cable TV. They are used to it.

Cable operators are distributors and they cannot generate content. School concerts are ready made materials for them. All they have to do is record and play for hours. Every cable operator in the country does it. In smaller places, parents like watching and talking about their children dancing on TV.

The so-called ‘tape dance’ has become so popular that one even remarked that judging by the dancing and singing on the TV, Bhutanese are the happiest people, pun intended.

Restricting the programme to two hours a day is a soft approach. We are tackling only half the problem. There cannot be a rule to ban schools from dancing to music played on tapes, but schools can be encouraged for variety. The popular skits, students composing and singing for school concerts are almost gone. In short, there is no originality.

Some schools encourage students to choose their programme for the concert. Many end up writhing to modern music. They find it “cool” compared with performing a Wang Zhey. Dancing is not bad, but it is also not the only form of entertainment. Schools should go for varieties—singing, and acting; for instance. This will also add variety for those watching at homes on TV.

Beyond the local TV channel, authorities need to look at the content Bhutanese are consuming. We are watching not what we want to. There is no choice. It is decided by distributors outside the country. Therefore, we are forced to watch Kabadi or cricket even if we want football. Our children are watching cartoons in foreign languages, not in English or Dzongkha.

We restricted some channels including MTV because there were more ‘skins than scenes’ but we have even worse channels. We may boast about having more than 45 channels, but only a few are good while many are not even for Bhutanese.

Television is a powerful audio-visual media with vast opportunities to learn from the right content. If contents are dictated by commercial gains and if viewers are addicted to such programmes, we will not gain from such a powerful medium.