State-owned Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) and five content providers including DVB Multimedia Group signed an agreement over the weekend to broadcast via digital free-to-air TV channels, in a landmark first for Burma’s media landscape.
The five tender winners — DVB, Mizzima Media Group, Channel K, Fortune TV and My TV — were selected last year to broadcast digital free-to-air content and leaders of those organisations said they would vie for market share to ensure long-term viability as the country’s private broadcast space sees an unprecedented opening up in the months and years to come.
The signing ceremony on Saturday in Yangon was presided over by Pe Myint, Burma’s minister for information.
Aye Chan Naing, executive director of DVB, noted that the fight for market share would take place not only among the five new channels but also with already-existing broadcasters.
“There will be big competition for market share, I think. Because the advertisements will be difficult to get for all channels,” he said.
Tun Tun Soe, project director for My TV, told DVB on Saturday that his company’s broadcast content will seek broad appeal, given the need to attract a wide audience in the current media landscape.
“If we can present the best programs, people will watch our channel. We will try our best as regards the market,” he said.
Soe Myint, chief editor of Mizzima Media, also acknowledged the market pressures that would determine the futures of the five new channels, given their digital free-to-air status.
“We face a challenge in how we can get advertising. We will try together with the other four channels to succeed in this challenge,” he said.
Of the recently minted content providers, DVB and Mizzima plan to focus on news, while the other three channels will prioritise entertainment broadcasting.
Htet Aung Kyaw, channel manager for Fortune TV, said that their channel would offer viewers “info-tainment,” using original content and taking news programming from the private online outlet MCN TV.
With a blueprint to adopt a similar model, Channel K will take news from the AKonThi online media, which has the same owner as Channel K, but with an eye toward avoiding sensitive news topics.
“We will broadcast just breaking news. And we won’t broadcast sensitive politics news, because we don’t want to damage our national interests,” said Toe Toe Kyaw, managing director of Channel K.
Mizzima intends to have its channel up and running by the end of February, as does DVB. The other three channels will require at least another month before they are broadcasting under the agreement inked Saturday.
More than 40 hopefuls had applied for the “content provider” licences and a short-list of 10 companies was announced in February 2017.
The five new channels will be operated in partnership with MRTV, relying on the state-owned broadcaster’s transmission infrastructure to reach their audiences.