May 1, 2013

Ministry of Information granted licenses to 10 more private daily newspapers

Myanmar's Ministry of Information Tuesday granted 10 more private daily newspapers for publication in the country in addition to the 16 permitted earlier, signifying a further step taken by the government in media reform.

The 10 newly-granted daily newspapers significantly include two English dailies -- Myanmar Freedom Daily and International Herald Tribute.

The International Herald Tribute, owned by a U.S. company, will be reprinted as the original one to be published in Myanmar.

The other eight dailies are National Times, Eleven News, Nagani, Dana Economy, Warasein, News Watch, Pyi Myanmar and Myanmar Post.

The granting of the 10 new dailies has brought the total number published or to be published in Myanmar to 26.

The prior 16 dailies, granted for publication, are Union, Golden Freshland, Standard Times, Voice, Myanmar Newsweek, 7-Day, Khit Moe, Empire, the Messenger, Up-Date, Mizzima, Khit Thit, Yangon Times, Myanmar Dika, Union Athan, and D-Wave.

Of them, the Union Daily is run by the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), while the D-Wave is operated by opposition party, the National, League for Democracy (NLD).

Of the 16 dailies, the prior eight have so far been put on circulation since April 1 and the rest is yet to reach the readers on a late date.

The re-introduction of private daily newspaper in the Southeast Asian nation came after a stop of such publications for five decades.

The go-ahead for the private sector to run daily newspaper is also regarded to be part of the achievements of the country's media reform.

The Myanmar government started media reform in June 2011, and in August 2012, domestic media publication control was totally liberalized.

Myanmar then announced in December 2012 free publication of private daily newspapers, dissolving its Press Scrutiny and Registration Division.

The government also reformed its 29-member provisional Myanmar Press Council in September 2012 which deals with media-related issues before a media law is formally enacted by parliament.

Apart from the emerging private daily newspapers, there are also some six state-owned daily newspapers, over 200 private-run weekly news journals in Myanmar, English and Chinese languages, more than 200 magazines and nearly 7,000 private publishers.

Besides granting publication of private daily newspaper, the government also started to permit more foreign news agencies to station in Myanmar since early this month. So far, three such agencies namely NHK and Kyodo of Japan and U.S.-based Associated Press (AP) are in the process of opening their branches in Yangon.

For the early period, China's official Xinhua News Agency and Guangming Daily were the only two foreign news agencies out of over 20 allowed to station in Myanmar with their country's citizens operating as resident correspondents.

With no branches set up yet but representative offices, other foreign news agencies assigned local Myanmar citizens as their reporters.

There had been more than 20 offices of foreign news agencies in the country before they formally open branches here.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information 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 2012, the Myanmar government replaced former Spokesperson and Information Team with a 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 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.

The Myanmar government has also formed a governing body for transforming three state-owned dailies -- Myanmar Alin, Kyemon ( Mirror) and the New Light of Myanmar, into public service media.

Source: Xinhua