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DVB’s Than Win Htut sits down with the newly minted Minister of Information Aung Kyi to discuss how new media laws will potentially affect both the private and public sectors.
We see that the Ministry of Information is carrying out media reforms, what are the most important changes that you are looking to implement?
We are looking to present changes to the media sector at appropriate times to gradually bring it into conformity with democratic standards.
For the first step, we have managed to form the Press Council. From there, we will be working on drafting the Media Law. We are on the right track with development procedures concerning the media.
And we heard [private] newspapers are going to be allowed at the end of this year?
We didn’t exactly say that it would be at the end of this year that was only an estimate, but we do hope that it will happen by early next year. We want to have a code of ethics and everything set up to an extent by the time [private] newspapers are allowed.
So the [government] has things to prepare for and thus we are taking time for that. So in my estimation, it will happen early next year.
And we also heard the [state-run] newspapers will be printed in colour?
That’s correct. As this is a state procedure, we are working to make this happen as soon as possible. We expect to have at least one newspaper – likely the Myanmar Ahlin – go full colour by October 18th.
Would you let us know how you’re preparing to address ownership and licensing concerning television and newspapers?
We aim to be a service that’s beneficial to the public in the future. The president in his inauguration speech mentioned utilising strategies that are beneficial to the public in all sectors – so in accordance with this, we aim to stand as a media service that is beneficial to the public’s interest and providing them with knowledge and information directly at a grassroots level.
There should be state-owned media as well as [Public Service Broadcasting] and also commercial ventures. We are looking to facilitate all of these models.
There may be opportunities as well as difficulties in establishing Public Service Broadcasting in Burma. Can you give example of the difficulties we are likely to face?
There are a lot of difficulties especially because we are very far behind technologically. We still can’t manage to reach out to ethnic people [in some remote areas]. And there are also other difficulties too.