Business Bhutan
Bhutan moves up 10 places in press freedom ranking

Reporters Without Borders has been calculating indicators of the overall level of media freedom worldwide; the higher the figure, the worse the situation
Lucky Wangmo from Thimphu
Bhutan has moved up 10 places in the World Press Freedom Index report compared to last year’s 104 released by the Reporters Without Borders this week.
Bhutan is ranked 94 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, which measures the level of freedom of information in 180 countries.
It has scored a total of 34.57 out of a possible 100, the higher score being the worse.
The report states that Bhutan is now evolving and the media landscape with it.
“The number of privately-owned media is still low but pluralism seems to have been developing since a transition from absolute to constitutional monarchy in 2008, and foreign journalists with official accreditation are able to operate,” states the report.
Among the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries, Bhutan tops the list followed by Nepal (105), Maldives (112), Afghanistan (120),India (133), Sri Lanka (141), Bangladesh (144) and Pakistan (147).
Last year, Bhutan’s ranking fell by 12 places from 92nd position in 2014 to 104th position.
Bhutan’s ranking has been constantly changing over a time period of 15 years. Records with the Reporters Without Borders show Bhutan’s ranking from 2002 till 2016. Bhutan was given the worse ranking in 2003 at 157th position with a score of 77.33, while the best ranking was given in 2010 at 64th position with a score of 17.75 out of a possible 100.
Talking to Business Bhutan, the Director General of Department of information and media (DOIM), Ministry of Information and Communication (MOIC), Kinley T. Wangchuk, said that the possible reason that improved the ranking must have been because of the policies that are already in place and the ones that are coming up.
“Another reason could also be because of the trainings that are being provided by the DOIM and also for assisting the Journalist Association of Bhutan,” he said, adding that felicitating the foreign journalists and making arrangements for them to make their mobility easier might also be some factors that help improve the rankings.
On the other hand, the Executive Director of Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF), Dawa Penjor, said that though the ranking has gone up, there has been no significant difference in the score.
“Unlike other countries, we are enjoying better freedom,” he said, adding that the interaction with international media and Bhutanese news reaching the international arena could be the reasons for the better ranking this time.
The Scandinavian countries of Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark are ranked the top four spots, while Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea and in the last four places.
According to Reporters Without Borders, there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels.
The global indicator has gone from 3,719 points last year to 3,857 points this year, a 3.71% deterioration. The report published annually since 2002 measures the level of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries using the following criteria-pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative environment, transparency, infrastructure and abuses.