And Bhutanese television, in particular; while radio and print media have far less effect
Bhutanese television is having the most influence in the way Bhutanese are thinking, talking, behaving, and dressing, followed by Indian TV and then other foreign TV channels, according to the draft final version of the Bhutan Information Media Impact study (BIMIS) 2013.
This finding was also reflected in BIMIS 2008.
Bhutanese television had the most influence (57 percent) on thinking and attitude, followed by Indian television (41), Bhutanese radio (38), and other foreign TV channels (35). Internet or online media had the least influence on thinking and attitude at 22 percent.
Bhutanese television also had the most influence on behaviour (49 percent), followed by Indian television (34), and other foreign TV channels (31). Bhutanese newspapers had the least influence on behaviour at 14 percent.
This trend was also followed for language and dress.
Survey respondents said that they viewed Bhutanese culture the most on TV (50 percent), followed by Indian culture (22), western culture (20), and Korean culture (4).
The study report points out that the Bhutanese film and music industry has had a big influence in reinforcing Bhutanese culture, by successfully replacing Bollywood and Hollywood products. However, it is also pointed out that Bhutanese films are still mostly influenced by Bollywood.
While Bhutanese TV and radio are having the greatest influence on Bhutanese, influence of foreign media must not be ignored, it is mentioned.
It is also mentioned that focus group participants have pointed out that foreign media is causing depletion of cultural values, and other adverse effects on youth, such as preference for western culture over national traditions.
These focus group participants also attributed the increase in gang fights, drug addiction, and violation of cultural norms, among others, to youth attempting to mimic behaviour expressed by TV programmes as western culture.
To offset the strong influence of foreign media content, focus group participants said that Bhutanese TV broadcasters must be encouraged to develop more diverse and quality programmes. Some said that BBS TV2, which is largely entertainment-based, must focus on educational programmes as well.
Need for competition for BBS was also suggested, so that more diverse content is created and to improve quality of service, balanced coverage, and professionalism.
In terms of how TV viewing affected daily lives, majority of respondents said it did not affect their work, prayer, socialising, and did not make them stay longer nights.
TV viewing was common among children, almost equally, both in urban and rural areas. Thirty-nine percent of children watched TV for less than an hour a day, 41 percent watched for between one to three hours, 14 percent watched between three to five hours, and six percent for more than five hours.
More than 38 percent of respondents noted a positive impact of TV on their children. Twenty-five percent said that TV viewing gave their children more exposure and confidence.
However, 27 percent said that TV viewing affected children’s schoolwork, and four percent said it made their children want to increase their consumption of material goods.
Only two percent said it made their children want to read less.
Forty-one percent of households placed TV viewing time limits on their children, while 36 percent allowed their children to watch TV without time limits or guidance.
About 50 percent of respondents said they allowed their children to watch TV to learn, and about 32 percent to be entertained, and about 13 percent to keep them quiet or occupied.
The study was conducted over a period of six months from November 2012 to April 2013, and interviewed 2,257 households located in six dzongkhags in the western, central, and eastern regions.
The study was conducted by the department of information and media of the information and communications ministry.
The objective of BIMIS 2013 was to assess the impact of media on society, trends in media content and pattern of information and media consumption, so as to facilitate development of appropriate policies for effective development of the information and media sector.
The report is available on the information and communication ministry’s website.
By Gyalsten K Dorji