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pekdorji - Opening the gates in Bhutan media gatekeepers...

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Opening the gates in Bhutan – media gatekeepers and the agenda of change Siok Sian Pek-Dorji Abstract Communication studies refer to the journalistic “gatekeepers” as professional, trained editors and reporters with professional news values, setting the agenda for discussion in society, thus putting topics for discussion in the public sphere. The definition of “gatekeeper” is extended to the family and community that have traditionally been important in the teaching and sharing of values in the home and community. This paper explores the manner in which the new media in Bhutan are changing the traditional role of the “gatekeeper” in transmitting values, and setting the agenda for the discussion of news and information. It will look at the implications on this tradition in the context of the changing media environment in Bhutan. It examines the new group of “gatekeepers’ who are determining the information we hear, read and see, and influencing the emerging social value systems. The paper presents a brief review of current global trends and studies on the role of new media and examines the implications for Bhutan. Strategies to build a healthy media environment are suggested for Bhutan as society builds a media culture that will give its citizens the kind of information, education and entertainment it needs to achieve a GNH society. Introduction One of the most significant developments in the kingdom of Bhutan in recent years is a small explosion of media and ICT. Bhutan has adopted an array of technologies and, with them, a variety of new media forms. International direct dialing, computer games, CD Roms, cell phones, new interactive radio, TV and cable channels,online newspapers, and interactive web sites. More than 125,000 people now use the cell phone, overcoming Bhutan’s main communication challenge of high mountain barriers. Media penetration continues to extend its reach into Bhutan: - BBS SW and FM radio reaches. all the people BBST TV ( the national TV channel), reaches almost all 20 districts - Global TV programming reaches people in 46 towns and urban settlements.
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- Two new FM radio stations were started in the past year. One of them became a 24 hour station in May 2007. - Two new newspapers were introduced in 2006. - B-Mobile, Bhutan’s telephone service, is planning a broadband service and internet services on the phone before 2008. - In 2006, the Bhutanese film industry produced a record number of 24 films All this is serving a country of 630,000 people, a country that, until 1999, did not have TV or the Internet. The traditional and new media are changing the way we work, live, do business, and even our view of life. The increasing accessibility of digital media is set to revolu-tionise the way we communicate and our means of expression and information. It is also developing a new, vibrant, and more democratic culture in Bhutan that can be tapped to build an environment for a GNH society. In the initial years the media focused on development activities and government oriented news.
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pekdorji - Opening the gates in Bhutan media gatekeepers...

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