Saturday, February 07, 2009

Radio still rules :: Bhutan & Media

14 January, 2009 - What was used five years ago for information is in use today for entertainment. This was one of the most significant changes in media trends, according to the draft media impact study (MIS) 2008, conducted by the centre for media and democracy.

The most visible influences of media are in the language, dress, behaviour, thinking and culture. The study found that Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) radio had the widest influence (33.8 percent), followed by BBS TV (29.5 percent) and Indian TV (22.3 percent). The study had 1191 respondents.
Though most felt that media promoted Dzongkha after the election debates, the study also states that, "a significant development is the emergence of Dzonglish (a mixture of English and Dzongkha), particularly among the youth."
The visual media's influence on dress, appearance, concept of beauty and behaviour (imitation of TV actors) are other impacts of the media. "The concept of beauty, with traditional notion of beauty being related to health and strength, is being replaced by the hour glass figure," says the study.
Newspapers influenced decision makers, while Bhutanese broadcast media had the greatest influence on mass thinking. In terms of culture, Hindi music was replaced by rigsar and youth are taken in by the fast talking radio jockeys.
One significant social change was that, today, Bhutanese have adjusted their lives around TV viewing for, in 2003, 64.5 percent said that TV viewing affected the time they have for work, while today it's only 16.3 percent.
While media now are critical players in the political process of an emerging democracy, overall, it found that there is a lack of content for children.
In terms of news preference, BBS radio tops as the main source for news. 49.4 percent respondents choose BBS radio, followed by BBS TV (37.6 percent) and Kuensel with 27.5 percent.
Kuzoo FM is the main source of entertainment for 35.8 percent, followed by international TV, 21.7 percent and BBS TV 7.7 percent.
Among other findings, the study states that, with foreign radio jockey (RJ) culture, the private radio's popularity has grown among youth and the rate of international radio listeners has dropped from 33.7 percent in 2003 to nine percent in 2008.
After the launch of satellite TV in 2006, BBS overtook international channels, with its viewership increasing from 30 percent to 54 percent. The past five years also saw a drastic increase in the use of mobile phones, with more than 250,000 users, compared to 28,000 fixed line users.
Yet, while the digital media became more popular, with eight percent of the respondents having access to Internet, 41.2 percent going to cinema, 44.8 percent watching TV for entertainment and 45.8 percent for news, the study found that newspapers were the least popular.
Among the respondents, 34.6 percent read Kuensel, 21.7 percent Bhutan Times and 20.9 percent Bhutan Observer. Though Dzongkha was the most popular language for TV and radio, for newspapers, it was English.
In terms of news coverage on developmental topics, good governance and culture were seen to be better covered than socio-economic and environmental issues. On content, however, people generally thought that youth were portrayed negatively, along with gender stereotypes, and the media was becoming more tabloidish, political and the nation's critic. They also saw a need to balance rural-urban stories and wanted more coverage on laws (marriage, citizenship, policies, NOC).
BBS TV and radio enjoy more credibility than private radios and international TV. 29.5 percent believed in BBS TV as compared to 7.5 percent in international TV. In case of press, Bhutanese newspapers were more believable than the international papers.
14.1 percent said Kuensel was a more credible source of news, while 6.5 percent said Bhutan Observer and 6.2 percent said Bhutan Times.
But the competition in the media has made people question accuracy, thus affecting the media's credibility, says the study. "Many note new sensationalism and degradation in content."
Five districts representing the east (Trashigang), west (Thimphu), south (Sarpang, Chukha) and central (Bumthang) regions were covered during the survey. The survey sample includes 600 rural and 600 urban households.

Alokesh Gupta
New Delhi via 

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