The Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness
Local Pathways to Global Wellbeing
St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 20 to June 24, 2005
|June 22 pm||
Workshop Report 2216
The Media in Development
Siok Sian Pek-Dorji, Journalist and Board Member of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation, Bhutan
Paul Shore, Canada Bureau Chief, GNN
John deGraaf, Producer and Author, Take Back Your Time Foundation, Seattle, USA,
Rapporteur: Krista Hall
|Siok Sian Pek-Dorji||
Media in Bhutan
Innovative Practice or Strategy:
The mandate of Bhutanese media is to inform citizens about issues, programs and ideas that will positively influence their lives. Media aim to advance society's positive development.
Mass media around the world is driven by advertising; advertisers have great influence over programming and the development of new stations and networks. The majority of mass media today are driven by commercialism and selling ideas to a broad audience, much of which may not result, or assist, in promoting the values and wellbeing of societies. At its worst, mass media messages result in the degradation of traditional values and the promotion of negative behaviours.
Media should promote the positive development of societies. Indigenous media in Bhutan has played an important role in people's development. Citizens are now more aware of family planning, children are better educated, and farmers can get reliable, and timely, information.
The speaker believes that if gross national happiness is to be the policy for Bhutan's development and for empowering people then local media must provide alternatives to the global trends of mass media. Local media must become as prevalent and influential as global media; indigenous media must generate, or be given, the resources and capacity to create content.
Kinley Dorji and Siok Sian Pek-Dorji
The Bhutanese Media In the service of the public (164K PDF)
Innovative Practice or Strategy:
|John de Graaf||
spoke about his experience working as an independent film-maker, particularly about creating the film Affluenza which addresses the topic of over-consumption and the virus of affluence in America
Innovative Practice or Strategy:
|Q||(for Paul Shore) What measure do you take to validate the credibility of sources?|
|Paul Shore||None. The community is the editor. It's like a forum. The stuff that ends up on the front page of the site is what is deemed credible by the users. It's a self-moderated site.|
|Q||Can you download the content off the GNN site?|
|Paul Shore||No. You can't take the movies home with you. You can buy the videos off the site|
|Q||(for Siok Sian Pek-Dorji) How much coverage has there been on Bhutanese refugees?|
|Siok Sian Pek-Dorji||There has been some coverage on the local networks and in the newspapers.|
|Q||(for Paul Shore) What do you see as the interface between the internet and television? What about the fact that people see the internet as not as valid or credible?|
|Paul Shore||I don't think there will be a full convergence of internet and TV like we talk about. Maybe there will be something like a simulcast of TV and internet. As for the credibility of internet sources, people shouldn't believe everything they see or read on TV, the internet, or in newspapers. If we get on TV, our goal will be to attract different types of advertisers who support the ideas and issues that are being reported|
|Q||(for Siok Sian Pek-Dorji) How has the introduction of internet influenced Bhutan?|
|Siok Sian Pek-Dorji||There are now 10,000 computers in Bhutan but most of them are located in institutions. More people are now "chatting". It's very useful, especially for technical questions and researching health matters. People go on forums when they have a health problem or such.|
|Q||How much of the media content in Bhutan is locally produced?|
|Siok Sian Pek-Dorji||The content on the Bhutanese channel is largely Bhutanese. We have four hours on TV and 10 hours on radio. We want more.|
(for John de Graaf) What is the cure for Affluenza?
And how does the religious right relate to the cure you talked about?
|John de Graaf||
Answer to Question 1: 70 per cent of first movie was about the disease, while the second movie, "Escape from Affluenza", featured those who were changing their lives and trying to live a more environmentally friendly, spiritual type of lifestyle. We did try and look at the treatment as well as disease.
Answer to Question 2: Well the religious right is always talking about family values. From our point of view one of the things that tears families apart is materialism. So it was a good fit with the religious right. The religious right knows a lot more about the progressive folks then we do about them. They read everything about "liberalism" but we tend not to want to know as much about them.
|Q||Did you try and get your film aired beyond PBS in order to reach more people?|
|John de Graaf||It is true that PBS appeals to only a certain group, but those people then spread it beyond, at house parties or in other forums. We'd love to be on the larger network but that's unlikely. What's excited me about it is that the film is eight years old and people are still using it in public institutions and buying it based on personal interest.|
|Q||(for all presenters) Would it ever be possible to design a specialized network that filters out the mainstream shows?|
|Paul Shore||Maybe. I think it's a tall order. Cable carriers have a lot of the control. I have to go and make a deal with a carrier if I want to air certain programming. If I came with a consortium of progressive networks then we might have a chance but it costs a lot of money. To start a network is a multi-million dollar business. There's very little money for original programming because there are so many channels and the audience is very diffuse. There are more channels trying to appeal to the same amount of people.|
|Q||(for John de Graaf) Can you elaborate on type of market research you did?|
|John de Graaf||We didn't have a lot of money to fund all of this research but we did go out with a couple of pollsters we knew to gather existing research. We also examined focus group research. There was a lot out there to learn from. It clearly pointed us in the direction we should move in.|
|Paul Shore||Any aspiring TV producers do not say environment, social justice or similar terms because they won't get any dollars. You have to pitch it in a way that speaks to the media decision-makers.|
|Q||(for Siok Sian Pek-Dorji) To what extent does the government influence Bhutanese media?|
|Siok Sian Pek-Dorji||News about the King or government is usually the top of the news. But you have to remember that TV and mass media are still young in Bhutan and people are interested in where the royal family is going and what they are doing. Most people had never seen the leadership up front. So there is a fascination.|
|Paul Shore||What kind of impact has global television had on Bhutanese children?|
|Siok Sian Pek-Dorji||
There's no empirical study on this but I can say that educators are encouraging parents not to let their children watch particular programs like wrestling for example. I think at the end of the day media is up against materialism –; money drives the world. You have to have the right sound bite when you're trying to sell a show or station.
In Bhutan we have the Communication Authority which tries to guide media. It tells cable providers that they should have at least a minimum number of sports, news, etc channels. Most people want the lowest denominator, non-stop fashion TV, world wrestling. I think we have to make sure we're much more socially conscious and try and influence the media accordingly
|Q||(for all presenters) There is a market for original programming so why isn't mainstream media catering to this interest?|
|Paul Shore||I feel there is a hunger for what we are doing but broadcast executives don't like to take risks. The leftist media you're talking about has to be sought out. There's a lot less of it. I think it's a combination of people not wanting to take risks, especially because mainstream media is funded by ad dollars.|
|John de Graaf||I'm nervous about the divisiveness. We all want to watch and read what we already believe. I really worry that we're not coming together and talking to each other. The right and left are already so divided. We have a big job on our hands to find out how to reach a broad audience, not just the progressives.|
|Q||(for John DeGraaf) Would a film like Affluenza appeal to a broader network? Can you get this stuff on TV?|
|John de Graaf||I'd like to see this happen but right now it doesn't look promising.|
|Paul Shore||It's not an easy sell to put a show against advertising on mainstream TV because it's funded by advertisers.|
|Q||(for Paul Shore) What do you think about Google's advertising? Ads could correspond to what the stories are about?|
|Paul Shore||I would accept ads on my site but a couple of my partners may not agree. We're idealistic. We're against mixing news and advertising. We're only six people so we have very little resources to set that kind of thing up.|
|Q||Can we put stories about the conference on GNN?|
|A||Yes it's already happening.|
|Q||(for Siok Sian Pek-Dorji ) If you start seeing the trend in Bhutan that gross national happiness is decreasing because of TV what will happen? Are you conscious about it?|
|Sion Sian Pek-Dorj||Yes, that's why we're promoting more programming from Bhutan. At the end of the day, you know it's hard. If we decided not to have TV then we'd always feel like we are deprived and less developed. The King agrees that people are much more educated now that TV has been introduced. Technology is moving along. We can't isolate ourselves. We have to teach people how to judge for themselves. We are in control. It's not the media that is in control.|
|Paul Shore||Media literacy is critical. That means being involved creating the media and to understand and see what goes into making videos for example. You then understand what goes into creating messages and how it influences our world. If children in Bhutan have the critical tools they need to understand what they watch and read then they should be okay.|
|Sion Sian Pek-Dorj||We also have to move away from having a TV in every room. TV is about family viewing time. Parents should be aware of what their children are watching.|
|Print PDF of original report (102sK)|
|Next:||Workshop Report 2217: Holistic Education Policies|
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