"towards enhancing ethical and professional media standards"
The Media Council of Bhutan is established on 10th September, 2019 as per the provisions of the Information, Communications and Media Act of Bhutan 2018. Amongst others, the Council is mandated to:
(1) Promote and protect freedom and independence of the media;
(2) Serve as a standard setting body to promote and enhance ethical and professional standards amongst journalists and media enterprises for media practitioners.
(3) Accredit and certify the Journalists practicing in Bhutan.
(4) Regulate or curtail any harmful, offensive, illegal or antithetical content on the internet and other ICT and Media services, unless otherwise provided under specific provisions in this Act.
(5) Set standards and guidelines in accordance with the overall media related codes and standards set by Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority.
(6) Hear the complaint and settle the dispute in relation to offences of content not amounting to criminal offences which are prescribed under the Rules and Regulations.
(6.1) A party aggrieved by the decision of the Media Council may file an appeal to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre.
(7) Provide recommendations on matters affecting the media sectors to the Ministry and Regulatory Authority.
(8) Ensure objective and fair treatment of any person by the media;
(9) Protect general public and more specifically vulnerable sections of the population such as children and young persons from undesirable influences of all Media services;
(10) Frame Rules and Regulations on matters relating to the Media Council.
The establishment of the Media Council of Bhutan sets out the objectives, functions and powers of the Council and review matters contravening the freedom and abuse of rights and take remedial measures. It is also mandated to build up a code of practice and a code of conduct for the people working in the media industry and ensure people working in the media industry behave responsibly and ethically. The Council is an independent legal entity having the power to sue and be sued in its own name and the capacity to conduct transactions independently.
In the discharge of its functions of preserving the freedom of the press and maintaining and improving the standards of the press, the Council performs a multi-faceted role. It acts on the one hand as a quasi-judicial authority and on the other, in its advisory capacity; it guides the press as well as the authorities on any matter that may have a bearing on the freedom of the press and on its preservation.
The Council consists of five Members representing the Ministry of Information and Communications, Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority, the Journalists Association of Bhutan, Bhutan Media Foundation and Media Enterprises each. The Chairperson is elected through secret ballot by the Council members. The members serve for a term of five years and may be reappointed for one additional term. The Council is funded by the Government and required to meet at least four times annually as per the Rules and Regulations to be adopted by the Council.