Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tenuous reinstatement of Ten Sports

By Ugyen Penjore
1 December, 2007:
There is good and bad news for Bhutanese soccer fans. The Bhutan InfoCom and Media Authority (BICMA) had instructed cable operators to reinstate the sports channel, Tensports.

But cable operators say it will not be possible before 2008.“We are under pressure from the public to reinstate the channel,” said BICMA’s Wangay Dorji, who said that BICMA had instructed the cable operators to reinstate the channel with effect from November 1. Tensports airs the highgly popular UEFA European Champions League, the African Nations Cup, Copa America (Brazilian league), and also live cricket matches.

“If MSOs don’t reinstate Tensports, we’ll legalize satellite dish TV,” said Wangay Dorji.

The channel was banned in 2004, following an independent media impact study, which pointed out that the channel aired violent programmes like the World Wrestling Federation.

“We received several applications, telephone calls, and requests in person to reinstate the channel,” said Wangay Dorji. “One application was signed by about 50 people, mostly football fans.”

However, multi service operators (MSO) say that it will take time to reinstate the channel. Innovation Bhutan Network’s coordinator, Nyema Zam, says that Tensports, which was distributed to Bhutan by the Sony group, had been sold to Zee. “Zee network is in the process of formulating their distribution territories,” she said. “Once everything is sorted out, it will be reinstated, probably by early 2008.”

Nyema Zam said that affordability of the channel would also have to be looked into. “When cable operators subscribe the channel, they’ll have to pay,” she said. “Maybe the channel will be made available in urban centres where subscribers are more.”

Cable operators say that they cannot promise anything, since purchasing the channel would mean additional cost. “BICMA just sent us a letter to reinstate, but there are cost implications,” said UCTV’s Jigme Karchung. However, a UCTV employee said that they were in the process of negotiating with their Indian partners. “We’ll be able to give concrete answers by the end of the week,” said the staff member.

Tensports is available in many dzongkhags though not in Thimphu and Phuentsholing.

Nyema Zam said that Tensports was made legally not available in Bhutan. “Cable operators must have pirated the channel through Dish TV,” she said.

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