Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bhutan Broadcasting Service to get new TV centre, shortwave transmitter

Bhutan's national television - Bhutan Broadcasting Service Television (BBS TV) - expects to undergo a major professional facelift with the construction of Nu. 56.4 million television center.

BBS TV is looking at better news broadcast, quality programmes and a nationwide coverage when the TV center will be equipped with the latest broadcasting equipment and a 100-Kilo Watt (KV) Short Wave (SW) transmitter and have a link up with an Indian satellite.

The 1,600 square metre-center, to be constructed with Indian assistance, will house a master control room, news and production control rooms, a voice-over booth, a set maintenance shed, a graphics and creative unit, and office space for engineers, journalists, cameramen, and producers all of which was absent so far.

“The urgent need to separate the radio and TV was long felt,” said BBS managing director, Mingbo Dukpa. “Besides helping improve the quality of TV programmes, the center will enhance the professionalism of the staff.”

BBS TV was hastily launched in June 1999 with minimal infrastructure and merged with BBS radio for want of space to house a separate TV studio. Thus, BBS TV broadcast began from a small 30 square metre-studio adjacent to the 50 KW short wave transmitter at Sangaygang in Thimphu. Due to strong transmission interference from the SW transmitter, the radio transmission had to be shut down daily by 5 pm to allow TV transmission which affected the radio broadcast.

“In January, 2003, a 100 square metre room inside the radio station in Chubachu was converted into the present TV studio,” said Mingbo Dukpa. “This temporarily took care of some of the problems enabling both radio and television transmission to go on air simultaneously.”

Besides, BBS, over past two years, increased its airtime for both radio and TV. This further aggravated the space crunch at the present radio station with about 200 regular staff squeezed in single building. BSS TV also lacked trained and skilled journalists, according to the managing director.

BBS chief engineer, Sonam Tobgyal, said the present complex was meant for radio only, and all essential things for TV broadcast were missing.

However, once the center is in place BBS will have separate editorial and production department for radio and TV.

Apart from the capital, which remained the sole recipient of live service for a couple of years, BBS TV today goes live to Phuentsholing and Paro through Bhutan Telecom's fibre optic network.

The management says that BBS TV will go live nationwide latest by February, 2006, once the satellite link is up.

The government of India has also made additional commitment of procuring Nu. 119.0 million worth of equipment for the new TV center, purchasing and installing a Nu. 86.0 million 100 KW transmitter and providing an additional Nu. 18.0 million for hiring of a satellite for three years. The total assistance comes to about Nu. 280 million.

BBS today has about 205 staff including 40 technical personnel, 20 journalists, and 65 producers. This year alone it recruited about 50 people to fill in as journalists and producers as part of strengthening its professional staff for both radio and TV.

The sa-lang (ground breaking) ceremony for the TV center was done on December 11.

By Gopilal Acharya