In our endeavor to create an informed society that is inclusive of both rural and urban areas, access to information and media in the country has improved considerably. People now have access to all the BBS Channels including BBS channel 3 which is digital and focuses on educational programmes.
This was made possible by the installation of Ku-band dishes through the use of South Asia Satellite (SAS). The launch of the SAS and subsequent establishment of the Ground Station in 2019 has enabled BBS signals to reach the entire country. Since July 2020, about 11,589 rural households have been connected with the BBS through Ku-band installations. In FY 2020-21, 8,351 households were connected to BBS through Ku-band dish TV.
In the last seven months of FY 2021-22, about 3,238 households were connected to BBS through Ku-band dish TV in rural areas by the three permit holders. The detailed report is given below:
|Sl. No.||Permit Holders||Jul 2021||Aug 2021||Sep 2021||Oct 2021||Nov 2021||Dec 2021||Jan 2022||Total||Grand Total|
|3||Mr. Ugyen Tshering||104||120||197||394||139||954|
|4||Mr. Sherab Rabgay||Recently licensed as a permit holder by BICMA and started installing from February 2022|
According to data collected by DLG in March 2020, there were 39,461 households (HH) in rural Bhutan without BBS TV connectivity out of which 10,543 HHs had TV sets but no BBS connectivity. Samtse Dzongkhag had the highest number of HHs not connected to BBS while Bumthang had the lowest.
The Department of Information and Media (DoIM), Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) in collaboration with the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) has been working on this initiative since July 2020. As of now, BICMA has licensed 4 Ku-band permit holders to procure and install Ku-band dishes and accessories. Further, in order to ensure the work is being carried out on time and to ensure accountability; respective Dzongkhags have been allocated to the permit holders.
Ku-band is being installed in remote areas which are unreached by Cable television. Cable Operators have connected households in Bhutan and provided access to information and media, especially ensuring that BBS programmes reach these households, which is a challenge given our rugged terrain in some parts of the country and scattered settlements.
Directives were issued to LCOs to expand the CATV network beyond their designated areas using Ku-band dishes. Brochures and information leaflets on Ku-band dishes and installations with rates have been made available to the rural areas. BICMA and DoIM are constantly monitoring the price and charges levied to the rural households for the supply and installation of Ku-band equipment and installations.
Besides, having BBS connectivity has become imperative to enable citizens to have access to timely and accurate information, announcements and entertainment programmes.
BBS programmes are transmitted through terrestrial and satellite platforms. Analogue cable platform is the largest network that carries BBS signals and with the help of the two Multi Service Operators, NetCom Bhutan MSO and DrukMSO, Cable Television (CATV) is going digital while improving access. The deadline for digitization of CATV will be December 2022. Digitization enables customers to view better quality programmes but at the same time the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Channel 1 and 2 will have to go digital as well. They are in the process of upgrading their studios and equipment to digital.