Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has seen its media arena evolve in the past six months. After decades of political unrest, the country is seeing some promising reforms.
Contrary to the present law, the government has announced that on April 1, privately owned
newspapers will formally be allowed to issue daily prints instead of weekly ones. This weekly obligation had been put into place for the government to easily control the publications of each and every newspaper, holding the power of censoring those they disapprove of. Additionally, some exiled media sources such as The Irrawaddy, which has been operating in Thailand, are returning to Myanmar. The diversification of news media implicates a beginning of a different and hopeful era for the Myanmar media system.
However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the reform will be easy for the publications to handle. Most of these publications do not have the proper distribution systems needed in order to compete with the government-owned publications, which are currently in place. Also, the crucial costs of the investments are too large for some publications, which will have to rely on becoming a daily newspaper only for certain parts of the country to limit expenses. According to U Kyaw Min Swe, editor-in-chief of The Voice Weekly, these costs are also problematic in consideration of quality, in terms of their prints and the paper used.
Although the changes are problematic, it is positive that the Myanmar government is open to taking steps to improve the nation’s communication.