Private Daily Newspapers to Return After 45-Year Ban

Private Daily Newspapers to Return After 45-Year Ban

A woman sells newspapers and journals in Rangoon in December 2011. Burma’s government announced on Tuesday that private daily newspapers could return to the market in April 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

A woman sells newspapers and journals in Rangoon in December 2011. Burma’s government announced on Tuesday that private daily newspapers could return to the market in April 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

After being banned for more than four decades, private daily newspapers can begin publishing again in Burma on April 1, the second anniversary of the new quasi-civilian government, the Ministry of Information announced on Friday.

Burmese nationals or organizations can apply for licenses to publish daily newspapers starting on Feb. 1, the ministry said in a statement, adding that they could also write in ethnic languages and foreign languages.

The ministry’s announcement is another step toward press freedom in a country that has banned private daily newspapers for 45 years, since the private Ludu (“The People”) newspaper was forced to close in 1967 under Burmese dictator Gen Ne Win.

The move follows the government’s decision to end direct media censorship in August, allowing journalists to publish their work without submitting it first to state censors.

Media organizations in Burma have been preparing to enter the daily newspaper market for months, recruiting and training new journalists after Information Minister Aung Kyi, who took his post in September, said dailies would be allowed to re-enter the market.

“We have long awaited this news,” Ko Ko, editor of Yangon Media Group, told The Irrawaddy on Friday following the ministry’s statement.

However, media sources said it could be difficult to come up with enough capital to enter the daily newspaper market at first.

Ko Ko said established media players with two or more journals were most expected to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I will keep one of my two journals, and I’ll turn the other one into a daily paper,” Ko Ko said.

Meanwhile, the newly formed press council is moving closer to completing its draft of a media law to replace Burma’s existing press code.

The law may be completed as early as next month, according to Ko Ko, who is part of the 29-member Interim Press Council, which formed in September.

The government also recently announced that state-run newspapers would be transformed into “public service media” in the near future, with a possible change in content but continuing favorable coverage of government policy.


5 Responses to Private Daily Newspapers to Return After 45-Year Ban

  1. Forty five years is a long time. The Ludu Daily lasted 21 years during which time Burma had one of the most vibrant and diverse media including the dailies. The govt must stop shooting the messenger next after they have stopped muzzling the media.

    There have been some teething problems drafting the media law when the regime tried to impose its habitual diktat without bothering to go through a process of consultation and inviting the media to participate. A free press should be willing and prepared to regulate itself. There is enough scope for legislature over libel, data protection and official secrets inter alia without a media law per se.

  2. Great News for our Burmese Readers in Burma & In Abroad . Our Respected Writers Ludu U Hla , Bamaw Tin Aung , Saya Mya Than Tint , Adauktaw Hla Aung would be Overjoy from the Grave for this News . It’s been 4 Decades in Dark Age ( No Knowing, No Hearing From inside or outside World ) for the People. Man’s Lifetime Wasting Period. Even such Important News like Criminal News were not mentioned in their Mouthpiece Myanma Ahlinn. Besides,a Great Victory for the People . Let me suggest one more issue , Allow to reprint the Books which were Banned by the Previous Govt.

  3. Freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of achieving a free society.

  4. The Burmese newspapermen who joined hand in hand with people in 8888 should be honored when the free newspapers start to publish. Having formed a newspaper coordination committee, they were the first to revolt against the military regime that ruled the country for nearly five decades. As far as I remember, they were: Maung Wuntha, Aung Wint, Sein Hla Oo from Botataung newspaper; Ko Ko Gyi (Hungary), Ko Hla Win (Engineer) from The Mirror; Khin Maung Aye, Myint Swe Saine from Working People’s Daily; Maung Maung Kyaw Win, Htin Shan from the Guardian Daily; Pein Pein and Shwe Wah Soe from Myawaddy magazine.The free papers should conduct interview to these persons and convey in their first publication.

  5. “The government also recently announced that state-run newspapers would be transformed into “public service media” in the near future, with a possible change in content but continuing favorable coverage of government policy”. “Favourable Coverage” should not compromise transparent, unbiased, truthful reporting. Otherwise, these newly transformed state-run newspapers will meet the same fate of the old papers; i.e. ending up in the trash bin. In the fast changing world, no one has time to read trash.

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