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Myanmar continues significant media sector reform
Xinhua | December 31, 2012 09:28
By Agencies
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Myanmar continued significant media reform allowing free publication of private daily newspapers staring April 1, 2013 in addition to the state-owned ones.

The opening up to private sector in running daily newspaper is the first in five decades.

Any national language of Myanmar as well as any foreign language will be allowed for such publication, according to Friday 's announcement of the Ministry of Information which said that application for such move can be made to the ministry starting Feb. 1, 2013 and the publisher shall be Myanmar citizen or naturalized Myanmar citizen.

It stated that the private daily publication business can be single-person-owned as well as organization-owned.

There are some six state-owned newspapers published daily in Myanmar, namely Myanma Alin (Myanmar language), Kyemon (The Mirror) (Myanmar language), Myawaddy (Myanmar language), The New Light of Myanmar (English language) and Yadanarpon (Myanmar language) in addition to over 200 private-run weekly news journals in Myanmar, English and Chinese languages as well as over 200 magazines and nearly 7,000 private publishers.

There are also more than 20 offices of foreign news agencies in the country.

Beginning June 2011, the authorities have been undertaking media reform phase by phase and in August 2012, domestic media publication control was totally liberalized, canceling prior official scrutiny as previously done.

In September, Myanmar's new government reformed the 29-member provisional Myanmar Press Council to deal with media issues before a press media law is formally enacted by parliament.

The provisional press council involves Myanmar Writers Association, Myanmar Journalist Association, Myanmar Printing and Publishing Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar Publishers Association, Myanmar Press Union, Myanmar Journalists Network and those from media industry.

The provisional press council, set up with retired Supreme Court Judge U Khin Maung Aye as its chief, has issued codes of conduct for media personnel, mainly calling for respect of intellectual property rights, truthfulness to facts, making corrections if mistakes are made, avoidance of libel and defamation, and religious or racial instigation.

The codes also require that reporters separate their own opinion and comment from the news, and make objective and impartial reporting.

Minister of Information U Aung Kyi stressed the need to enhance the integrity of all media organizations, expressing the belief that as long as journalists maintain their sense of freedom, responsibility and accountability, they would be able to make the temporary press council an association of high dignity.

In November, Myanmar government replaced former Spokespersons and Information Team with six-member news media publication team for timely news distribution and helping private journals and foreign media keep abreast with important news.

The information team, headed by current Deputy Minister of President Office U Aung Thein, is tasked to hold press conference occasionally and release news regarding the political, economic, security, military and natural disaster affairs of the state in real time.

It will also distribute real-time news to local and foreign media, regional and international organizations and to support and coordinate with media publication teams formed by various ministries.

While granting private-owned daily newspaper, Myanmar government has also formed a governing body, aimed at transforming three state-owned dailies -- Myanma Alin, Kyemon (Mirror) and the New Light of Myanmar into public service media.

The governing body will adopt necessary policies and programs, draw necessary ethics and principles for newspapers and supervise the task for realization of principles of public service media so as to affect such transformation.

Myanmar's Ministry of Information administered various types of media, information and publication.

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