Bhutan | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Freedom of expression and of the press is restricted. In the absence of a constitution or clearly defined legislation concerning the operation of the media, the legal environment for the press remains opaque. Criticism of King Wangchuk and Bhutan's political system has by tradition been prohibited. Bhutan's only regular publication, the weekly Kuensel, generally reports news that puts the kingdom in a favorable light, although it does provide occasional coverage of criticism of government policies during assembly meetings. Kuensel's online edition, which is updated daily and contains reader feedback, provides a somewhat livelier forum for discussion and debate. In past years, journalists working for Kuensel have reportedly been subjected to threats from the government, but no cases of official harassment were made public during 2004. The broadcast media, which consist of the state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service radio station and television station, do not carry anti-government positions and statements. Cable television services are privately run and carry uncensored foreign programming. However, while they are thriving in urban areas, their growth has been somewhat hampered by a high sales tax and the absence of a broadcasting law. Internet access is growing and is unrestricted, and a second Internet service provider started operations in 2004.