Frontline World

Bhutan - The Last Place


Synopsis of "The Last Place"

Letter from Co-Producer Alexis Bloom

The Impact of Television

Most Watched Cable Channels

Article by Orville Schell

Interview with Rinzy Dorji, Co-owner Sigma Cable

Letter to the Editor

Facts and Stats about Bhutan

Media, New Technology, Human Rights and History




What's On in Bhutan
Scooby DooWhen cable TV was legalized in 1999, the Bhutanese government launched its own homegrown station, the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, to counteract the dozens of Indian and American channels flooding people's homes. Cable service providers are required to carry the BBS signal wherever possible to encourage people to watch the local station. But the BBS offers only two hours of programming per day, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., making it almost impossible to compete with 24-hour news, sports and movie channels. Check out the BBS's programs, read about one Bhutanese family's can't-miss shows, and learn about the film industry that rivals Hollywood.

BBS television schedule
This weekly TV listing describes the BBS's two-hour-per-day programming.

BBS code for commercial advertisement
Features general rules of conduct for advertising, including banning any advertising that undermines national sovereignty, derides any race or nationality, or contains any vulgar or suggestive themes.

Rinzy Dorji, co-owner of Bhutan's largest cable company, Sigma Cable, provided FRONTLINE/World with his estimate of the 11 most-watched channels in Bhutan:

Top 11

Who Decides What's On?

Bhutan gets the same cable package that its neighbor India receives, and cable operators like Rinzy Dorji negotiate with Indian channel providers to acquire a particular channel. Bhutanese cable operators complained in an article in Bhutan's only newspaper, Kuensel, that these foreign channel providers have taken advantage of the competitive situation in Bhutan, forcing them to bargain for certain channels and subjecting them to arbitrary rate hikes.

Cable TV: Hard Times? (Kuensel, August 10, 2001)



One Family Tunes In

Tshewang Dendup, producer for the Bhutan Broadcasting Service and co-producer of "The Last Place" for FRONTLINE/World, interviewed a Bhutanese man about his children's favorite TV programs and the Indian soap opera his wife cannot miss. The following is an excerpt from their interview:

My younger son loves Cartoon Network. He likes Popeye the Sailor and Tom and Jerry and my daughter has to like whatever he likes because he is the elder one. ... My eldest son who is studying computer applications and is 19 years old watches MTV.

My wife watches Kasautii Zindagii Kay, which comes at 9 p.m. It is an Indian soap serial about a guy and girl, both working in different news organizations. They have a love affair. The boy's mother does not like the girl. Family pressures make the guy marry another girl but the guy somehow still likes the previous girl. Due to some misunderstanding created by the boy's family, his previous lover starts to hate him. But of course, unbeknownst to the boy and his family, the girl has a child. She becomes a popular journalist because she comes up with all the popular investigative stories.

My wife has to watch every day and every episode. But I watch the BBS broadcast, which comes daily from seven to nine p.m. ... I make my family watch the BBC because it makes them know who is who and what is happening in Thimphu and around the country.

Hooked on Kasautii Zindagii Kay

The soap opera Kasautii Zindagii Kay consistently ranks among the top-watched Indian programs, as seen on this weekly AC Nielson rating chart:'s Ratings Monitor

Kasautii Zindagii Kay on the Star Channel
This Web site features background information and a discussion forum for the popular Indian soap opera.

Another Soap Traverses the Beaten Path
This article gives a plot summary of Kasautii Zindagii Kay. (Tribune India, November 11, 2001)



Bollywood Holds its Own

Although American television networks rank high among the Bhutanese people, Indian networks featuring Indian films, news and soap operas are just as popular. India's gigantic film industry, known as "Bollywood," is wildly popular in Bhutan. Because of India's proximity to Bhutan, Bollywood is more culturally familiar to the Bhutanese than Hollywood. Some Bhutanese also speak Hindi, making it easier for them to understand Indian films. Producing more films than its Los Angeles counterpart, Bollywood--famous for its cinematic extravaganzas--shows no signs of slowing down.

Hurray for Bollywood!
This online radio piece on the Boston-based National Public Radio affiliate WBUR discusses the rising popularity of Bollywood with an authority of the Indian film industry, Nupur Kohli.

North America: Bollywood's Biggest Consumer
This report on NPR's All Things Considered examines how California's South Asian community is driving the demand for Bollywood films. (May 23, 2002)

Planet Bollywood
Produced by INDOlink, a U.S.-owned portal serving Asia and India, this Web site features reviews, news and box office ratings of Bollywood films.
This Web site features discussion forums, polls and movie quotes from India's giant film industry.