Bhutan: Blaming the Telly

Sepia Mutiny on if it makes sense for Bhutan to not broadcast Indian Television programmes.


  • As soon as I read this, my first thought was, “Perhaps they should start blocking US programming too so kids don’t get enamored with pro wrestling.” Then I read the blog entry and saw them actually talking about this very problem.

    When I was in Bhutan in May 2002, I was amazed at how many young people were walking around with t-shirts bearing the likenesses of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock; meanwhile, on the main athletic field in the center of Thimpu, kids were practicing wrestling moves on each other while other boys in traditional Bhutanese dress focused on their archery skills.

    Perhaps there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Anyone care to begin a PhD dissertation on Bhutanese culture and its attraction to American pro wrestling? Then again, perhaps not.

  • Andy:

    Perhaps it’s part of a larger media flow. The media that comes into South Asia from the West is the one that is made with very little investment. In India, till about seven years back, telly programming from the US meant endless re-runs of the Bold and the Beautiful.

    But the other aspect is that programming for children in any country is horribly inadequate. Either there is a million cartoon channels, or very irritating preachy BH 90210 charmed-circle offering. Ask the programmers, and they point towards the extremely general direction of Edutainment, which frankly there is only so much a 12 year old can take. After a point, a kid tires of watching orangutans, rivers, mountains, space et al.

    Wrestling – ugly, chauvinistic, anti-feminist as it is, speaks a more universal language that a re-run of a chickflicky teenage soap. And perhaps the more serious thing is, that large parts of South Asia, think of the US as one large bedroom, with lots of people having sex in one corner, and lots of other people wrestling it out. It’s how they sell the US, and people love to buy it.. using the same currency.

    My very long 2 paisa!

  • Hi
    i am a television producer and a lecturer on media in mumbai. The last few years one of the case studies that i have been using in my media studies class has been this:,3605,975769,00.html

    I am not really surprised that the the Bhutanese have decided to put a halt to “foreign television”. Afterall, in India, even today national news on Doordarshan in Tamil Nadu is still in Tamil and not Hindi!

  • I. P. Adhikari

    I don’t think, blockage of TV channels would support the development processes in Bhutan. While the country is takling of globalization and entering the WTO, blockage of international media would surely be beyong the international laws.
    They claim that they wanted to protect their culture. Many reaserches have shwon that suppression over change and pressurizing people to stick to older traditions would blast to uncontrolable situation. The ruler and his ministers must think of changing society that is acceptable to international community.
    Rather, as a signatory to UDHR, the state must not bar people from enjoying their right to enterntainment and information.

    • I totally agree on this field. After all people, “what is media there for?”, Media and society was made to link, it will for sure keeping linking and you can do what is takes to do to change this but power is not in here, its an input in this arena of communication!

  • Leave bhutan’s problem to bhutan. Poking dirt nose in others matter do no good.

  • tsering

    what bhutan does is solely bhutan’s decision. blocking T.V channels in bhutan does not concern or affect any other country or citizens of other countries in any way. even with the channel blockages the citizen and the country on the whole is still surviving fine so i dont see why other people need to worry about it.

  • TV isn’t only the mode of mass communication there are others- in fact far efficient than TV. I see no reason why blocking some programs in Bhutanese TV should hinder Bhutanese pace of development. Neither, Bhutan is too late in framing its policy of cultural preservation – Bhutanese culture is still intact, therefore, we wouldn’t like it perish in the name of globalization. Globalization does not mean taking whatever that comes in market. What is poison and harmful to someone must not be taken. I don’t think international laws would impose someone to take poison. Mouth watering dishes of someone could be poison for some.
    This is just my view.

  • k dukpa

    most of these channels are simply junk junk junk!!! useless junk except when it comes to being a good consumer than it’s very useful. the tv will tell us what to buy and we will buy it to make someone richer while we become stupid. i’m no expert but it’s quite obvious. since there’s essentially nothing useful and everything is money driven we have every right to ban these useless channels. thank you very much.

  • P Sharma

    Why should it be a concern to so called “Leave Bhutan’s problem to Bhutanese alone” to these psedo country lovers? If Bhutan wants to remain within its boundary and isolated from the world in the name of culture, then ask a question yourself that why the country have signed and passed so many acts and international conventions in the recent years? Just to receive Aid or please India?
    Yes, Bhutan can ban everything as along as these so called defenders of the nation exists. Because if you speak aganist anyone in this country, you will considered Nglops or anti-national. The day is not far that once the people know thier rights and feel to act for it, all its current policies will come down to drains. For now you can do nothing… I will receive hell of comments from these so called loyals about this article. The day they will relaize and have patients to allow basic rights of the human being to prevail, I may not be living.

  • U. Dorji

    The essence of “Liberalisation Problem” is that it enables the supplier to force his or her goods onto unwanting customers directly or indirectly, good or bad. The same suppliers always tend to use the catchwords such as “freedom of choice”, “Customer Rights”, etc. etc. while their sole motive is to sell their product and keep on producing. Same is with TV programmes.

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