Bhutan Grapples with Influence of TV Wrestling
Huggler, Justin, The Independent (London, England)
TELEVISION ONLY came to the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan five years ago. Until then it was banned, for fear of the corrupting influence it might have on the country's Buddhist way of life.
Now, after five years of unrestricted viewing, the influence of the small screen on a country that has been described as the "last Shangri La" has its leaders worried - especially by American wrestling. The choreographed fighting of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is being blamed for rising violence and plans are being considered to stop it being shown.
Television and the internet were allowed for the first time in 1999, to mark King Jigme Singye Wangchuk's silver jubilee. The decision was taken after thousands filled the main square of the capital, Thimphu, to watch a special showing of the 1998 World Cup final in France on a giant screen.
In those early days the only broadcaster allowed was the BBS - the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, a national service. But after six months, global broadcasts were allowed and that, according to Bhutanese interviewed for a BBC programme called TV Invasion, is where the trouble started.
Bhutan lies among the wild peaks of the Himalayas, wedged between China and India. Most of the country is without paved roads. Even where there are good roads, the terrain is so untamed it can take two hours to travel 40 miles. About 70 per cent of Bhutan's 800,000 people still live without electricity.
The country only opened up to foreign tourism in 1974 and since then travellers have brought home stories of an unspoilt landscape of 24,000ft peaks and a traditional way of life. …