Bhutan News Service

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Bhutan News Service (BNS)
Founded 2004
Headquarters Kathmandu, Nepal
Products online news services

Bhutan News Service, abbreviated as BNS, is the first news agency of Bhutan. It is run as an independent news agency by Bhutanese refugee journalists since 2004[1] from Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. This is, probably, first of its kind considering a very few refugee media or journalism in exile. The agency is solely operated by refugees who are mostly born or brought up in refugee camps and without previous media experiences.

When over 100,000 of Bhutanese refugees started taking shelter in UN-administered refugee camps of Jhapa and Morang districts in eastern part of Nepal, there was a need of a vocal media in the refugee community. Several attempts were made by persons of various backgrounds to keep the journalism works going. However, survival of those media was not easy due to lack of funding, and they died one after the other.[2]

The Bhutan News Service was founded in 2004 by a small group of Bhutanese refugee youths, who during the time believed that journalism was a noble means to keep community informed and continue advocating the refugee issue. Most of the exiled publications were shut down, in particular following crunch financial assistance and or due to lack of human resources to continue volunteering without anything in return. Therefore, the news service emerged in as an alternative means to replace most of those publications, if not all. Initially, the works were limited to simply blogging. From 2006, BNS went online through its own news portal. [3]

″APFA initiated a joint effort for press freedom and called on two other media organizations working for press freedom in Bhutan and operating in exile. Thus a conference was held in eastern Nepal making a historic declaration vowing to expedite fight for press freedom. The first media conference adopted "Declaration Dé Exile". The declaration also accepted the APFA proposal to accept Bhutan News Service as the common and first news agency of Bhutan, but operating from exile.″[4]

Currently, around two dozens of reporters and over half a dozen of editors from various countries contribute for the news service on voluntary basis. The news agency has not been legally registered since Nepalese laws do not entertain registration of any entity owned and run by foreign nationals in Nepalese soil.[5]

″Unfortunately, we are not a registered entity yet. While most of our members were based in the capital city of Nepal for years, we made several attempts to get it registered in Nepal, but to no avail. We are, however, in the course of getting it registered preferably in USA since most of our members are based there and a vast majority of the Bhutanese have gotten resettled in the same place.″