Tue 4 Sep 2012
Filed under: Inside Burma,Media,News
Burma’s new information minister, Aung Kyi, says he expects privately owned newspapers will be published on a daily basis from next year.
Currently only state-owned papers such as the English language New Light of Myanmar are allowed to published daily papers.
Speaking to the country’s Myanmar Times publication, the former labour minister declined to give a firm date for the issuing of daily publication licences, but he estimated it could happen as “early next year”.
“It is my sincere belief that daily [private sector] newspapers are essential for a democratic country,” said Aung Kyi, who replaced a prominent hardliner last week when he was appointed as part of a cabinet reshuffle seen as promoting reformists in Burma’s government.
“I am sincere in wanting to achieve a comprehensive press media law that meets international standards,” he said, suggesting that the new proposed legislation could be delayed to give time for consultation with journalists and experts.
He says a code of practice should be discussed before changes were made to publication rules for private weekly papers.
In August, Burma announced the end of pre-publication censorship, previously applied to everything from newspapers to song lyrics and even fairy tales.
But Aung Kyi said these publications were in line for “significant changes”.
Since taking office last year, President Thein Sein has overseen a number of dramatic moves in Myanmar such as the release of hundreds of political prisoners and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s election to parliament.
Reporters jailed under the junta have also been freed from prison and a lighter touch from censors had already seen private weekly newspapers publish an increasingly bold array of subjects.
But there have been recent signs that it will take time for both newsrooms and the authorities to adjust to the new era of openness.
Two publications were recently suspended for a fortnight for prematurely printing stories without prior approval from the censors, prompting dozens of journalists to take to the streets in protest.
And the mining ministry is suing a weekly publication that reported the auditor-general’s office had discovered misappropriations of funds and fraud at the government division.