The first bilingual newspaper of the country – Bhutan Observer – is set to die after eight years into the market. Bhutan Media Services (BMS), started publishing the newspaper in English and Dzongkha (Druk Nelug) on June 2, 2006 shortly after fourth king announced that government would allow private newspaper be published.
Failing to penetrate through the market for readership and generate enough revenue for survival, the paper initially merged Dzongkha and English into a single newspaper and later completely abandoned the Dzongkha version due to lack of readership.
From August 2013, the company shut its print version, further squeezing its revenue sources.
Started with 60 employees, with Sonam Kinga (current chairperson of the National Council) as chief editor, the paper currently has less than half a dozen staff working.
The company failed to generate revenue despite trying alternative sources such as book publishing and travel agency. The company’s travel agency has already been closed.
The audit circulation by the government last year had found Bhutan Observer to be the second most circulated newspaper in the country.
This is the first death of a newspaper in a fledging democracy. People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while in opposition, had been vocal of providing financial support to the newspaper. However, its new government failed to provide any support to media.