Despite the junta’s efforts to completely cut off the Burmese public’s access to independent news media, DVB’s two primary social media portals, DVB TV News on Facebook and YouTube, have generated 1 billion and 100 million views respectively in the eight months since the February coup.
Data shows that audience figures (Facebook in particular) were—and remain—significantly affected by the junta’s attack on both press freedom and internet accessibility starting in mid-March.
On March 8, most of Burma’s independent media outlets were banned by the junta. DVB’s TV News platform has restructured in the light of a broadcasting ban, moving content online after having our television broadcasts made illegal within the country.
Concurrently, the military’s Directorate of Signals ordered internet service providers to block access to popular social networking platforms, including Facebook. Since March, the service has only been available if accessing via certain VPN apps. Even so, many of these services—costly for the vast majority of Burma’s citizens—are also failing to provide reliable access to social media, with many users finding that VPN proxy IP addresses are also blocked.
However, in destroying the presence of a trustworthy, factual domestic media, it is clear that the coup has driven an even wider demographic of Burmese citizens online to find reliable news outlets—between February and mid-March there was an explosion of new traffic to our platforms, much of which has been maintained up to now due to the public’s increasing demand for breaking news.
There are currently 25 townships in Burma suffering from total military-imposed internet blackouts, whilst the junta’s whitelisting of apps has restricted access to social media for many citizens. Before the coup, the Facebook app, by far Burma’s most important mode of communication, was provided to data users free of charge, having been subsidised by network providers.
DVB expresses its deepest gratitude to users old and new, and to all those journalists and news outlets who have kept news coverage flowing online in spite of the junta’s draconian crackdown.