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Wanted: live TV
www.tsheringtobgay.com, September 24, 2013
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The poll on the National Assembly’s decision to ban live TV coverage for most of its proceedings attracted considerable interest. But with 292 of the 315 participants (that’s 90% of them) disagreeing on the National Assembly’s recent decision, our readers’ views are clear. Only 23 voters (7%) supported the ban. And 10 people admitted that they really didn’t care.

The public outcry against the National Assembly’s decision is obvious. And I’m not just referring to our poll. BBS has shown many people, from various walks of life, all denouncing the restrictions imposed on BBS TV’s live broadcast. Yet, the National Assembly shows no sign of reconsidering its decision.

This is a very serious matter. And we cannot just ignore it. But what can be done? To begin with, write to your member of the National Assembly. Tell them that the ban is not good for democracy. And that you expect them to reconsider their decision.

The media also needs to do something. If they feel that the ban undermines free media, and that it is illegitimate, then they must demand that BBS be allowed to continue with the live telecast. And if their demands are not met, they should be ready to take the matter to the courts.

I’ll meet with the media to seek their views.

Our next poll is on the performance of our government. On the first day of the Parliament’s third session, our PM spoke extensively on the successes of the government. I wish to know what you think.

Broadcasting bad news

During a recent meeting to discuss the agenda for the next session of the National Assembly, MPs decided that live TV broadcast would be allowed only for the opening and closing ceremonies, the PM’s address, and for discussions related to public accounts and anticorruption. Only two MPs, both from the opposition, argued that the proceedings of the National Assembly should continue to be broadcast live on TV.

I cannot understand why anyone would want to discontinue the live broadcast of the National Assembly proceedings. Consider that:

the Constitution requires that “The proceedings of Parliament shall be conducted in public”;
live TV broadcast enhances the accountability of the members of parliament to the people who elected them;
many people, especially outside Thimphu, enjoy following the proceedings in the Parliament and, thereby, participating in the democratic process; and
BBS, which does not charge any fees for broadcasting the proceedings of the National Assembly, has not said that they cannot, for whatever reason, continue this service;
Unlike in many countries, our people actually like to follow the debates inside parliament. This is good. And we should be nurturing this interest in the democratic process. Not suppressing it.

Our honourable MPs would do well to listen to their people. And to the Constitution

These articles first appeared at www.tsheringtobgay.com and here

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