Private newspapers in Myanmar gearing up for the daily grind

YANGON: Private newspapers in Myanmar are gearing up to publish dailies for the first time, after authorities indicated they would begin issuing such licences in April.

Currently, only state-owned newspapers are allowed to publish dailies -- private ones are restricted to weeklies.

But observers caution that the still under-developed Myanmar economy might prove a challenge for private dailies.

There was a time when journalists from private newspapers like The Myanmar Times had to subject their reports to government censorship before the papers could be sent to the printers. But that changed last August, when authorities began reforming Myanmar's media regulations.

Geoffrey Goddard, senior editor of The Myanmar Times, said: "It was the curse of our professional lives and there was much celebration in the fourth estate when the decision was made by the government as part of the reform process to end pre-publication censorship."

Now, the government has indicated it will further liberalise the media sector -- by allowing applications for private daily licences as early as next month.

Mr Goddard added: "What we are eagerly looking forward to is the granting of licences to publish daily. That's the next big challenge for us and other newspapers in Myanmar."

The Myanmar Times has shown an interest in getting the license. But as with the rest of the world, the dailies have to contend with the onslaught of the online media. Currently, the Myanmar internet infrastructure might still be in the 90s, but it is expected to get up to speed soon.

There are more than 300 private weekly journals currently being published in Myanmar -- less than five are in English.

While many are excited at the prospect of publishing daily, observers doubt the viability of private dailies, given the country's under-developed economy.

Myo Aung, managing director of Success International Distributor, said: "Compared to neighbouring countries, our advertising budget is not very big. Most are local products. They advertise in magazines, journals and newspapers.

"But we hope that the government allows foreign investors to invest here. If foreign investors, and foreign firms and foreign expertise are here, I think our advertising scenario will also change very soon."

The government has already allowed foreign dailies to be distributed in the country.

And with the three state-controlled dailies currently having a circulation of 2.5 million copies a day, it will be a tough environment for upcoming private ones to compete in.


You're reading an article about
Private newspapers in Myanmar gearing up for the daily grind
This article
Private newspapers in Myanmar gearing up for the daily grind
can be opened in url
Private newspapers in Myanmar gearing up for the daily grind