Photo: Ruben Vermeersch / Flickr
Photo: Ruben Vermeersch / Flickr

Bhutan’s media maladies

The closure of a weekly paper in Bhutan signals a troubling decline in media diversity and journalistic space.

With the election of a new party in power in Thimphu last year, many saw it as a sign that Bhutan's 'young democracy' was thriving. Its equally young independent media, however, doesn't seem to be doing quite as well. In February 2019, Druk Neytshuel – a privately-run Dzongkha-language weekly – became the fifth private Bhutanese publication to go under in recent years, revealing the difficulties of media sustainability and independent journalism in the country.

Bhutan's media landscape was composed entirely of state-run press and broadcasters until 2006. But the arrival of electoral democracy that year, and the first parliamentary elections in 2008, saw a boom in the number of privately-owned dailies, weeklies and magazines in English and Dzongkha (Bhutan's sole official language). In 2010, there were 12 print publications in the country. By 2017, however, the number had reduced to nine. With Druk Neytshuel's closure, there are now only seven print news publications in the country, including the state-run ones.

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Himal Southasian