Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bhutan : FM rules the air waves

The nation is tuned in and turned on 18 March, 2008 - While film and television remain synonymous with screen, and words remain stuck to the pages of a book, radio is once again making ripples in the rural fringes of the country.At the heart of this is the birth of the FM stations. Since 1999, when the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) first launched its FM network, many rural folks have been able to tune into programmes with greater clarity. But it is in the past year that FM listeners have been given more choice with the start of several private stations. And many parts of rural Bhutan are hooked to Kuzoo’s FM 104 station, which broadcasts exclusively in Dzongkha and covers 14 dzongkhags. Programmes like Thrung Thrung Karmo, Kala Pingkai Khathen, Sunkey Dang Maja Yamo, Zhapthra Laymo, Sung Dramgyen, and Khuju Nyenmoi Khathen have become synonymous with entertainment in many parts of rural Bhutan. Dzongkha coordinator and producer with Kuzoo FM 104, Kinley Wangchuk, is buoyant when he articulately explains the programmes at hand and the drama surrounding live calls to Kuzoo. “Fifty percent of our programmes is for entertainment, with equal emphasis on the use of standard language,” he said. “Other programmes focus on youth guidance and counselling.” Kuzoo also has pre-packaged programmes inserted at intervals that range from stories of housewives to businessmen, farm work, popular figures, tradition, youth and political issues. What has also caught the imagination of rural folks is Kuzoo Puen, an entertainment programme that establishes a network of faceless relations or Puenchas. Kuzoo RJs say the programmes are targetted at improving the national language and reviving Bhutanese culture. “We’re losing touch with our own way of addressing our parents and their relatives,” said Kinlay Wangchuk. Listeners like soldier Yonten Jamtsho said that he liked the Kuzoo Puen programme where you get to answer questions and qualify to become a ‘Kuzu Puen’ member. “It’s interesting and enriching, listening to our local beliefs, customs and traditions,” said the soldier. Although only in Thimphu and Paro, Radio Valley, the second private FM station in the capital, which is popular among the young crowd for its western music also dedicates a number of hours for Dzongkha programmes. Centennial Radio, just over a week old, is also packed with Dzongkha programmes. “Our radio station wants to be more than just a music channel We’re targetting an audience of 25 plus age group and want to deal with serious issues like politics,” said the station manager, Karma Choki Dorji. Music-wise, Centennial radio will soon bifurcate the station into ‘Rigsar’ for Dzongkha programmes and ‘Centennial’ for English, according to the manager. By Tashi Dendup


No comments:

Post a Comment