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Rangoon Division’s Special Intelligence Department is investigating the finances of privately owned daily newspapers and weekly journals, media workers said.
Aung Soe, the Voice Daily newspaper’s editorial team secretary, said that the police department’s Special Branch summoned editors from various publications, including Voice Daily, to question them on their financial performance. The other publications include the Unity Weekly, Myanmar Post and the People Era Weekly news journals.
“They mainly asked about the amount of profits and losses because they know some of them are in circulation despite incurring steady losses,” Aung Soe told DVB on Sunday. “I guess they want to find out what is behind this.”
“They also wanted to know details, such as what production costs to a publication, its market price, channels of income, operation expenses, staff salaries and payment for writers,” he added.
While it is not unusual for the Special Branch to summon individuals for questioning, media workers say this was the first time they have shown interest in the financial details of publications.
Zaw Thet Htwe, news editor and member of the Interim Myanmar Press Council, said that the police must be questioned on whether they have the authority to investigate media outlets.
“We need to find out whether the police have the power to investigate newspapers and journals amid all the media freedom reforms, and their grounds for such an investigation — such as whether they are looking for money laundering or tax issues,” said Zaw Thet Htwe. “Right now, we don’t have a clear answer, but surely what we see is not a good sign for Burma’s news media.”