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Burma’s first broadcast media law is being drafted and will likely be implemented by the end of this year.
The government’s deputy information minister Soe Win, who spoke at a workshop concerning media development on 23 April in Naypyidaw, said the Ministry of Information (MoI) has been working on a broadcasting law since 2008.
He said the workshop, jointly organised by the MoI and International Media Support, aimed to ‘get suggestions and advice from international experts and domestic private media in addition to [studying] foreign laws.’
Tin Wan, deputy director general of Myanmar Radio and Television, said the law is necessary to provide freedom for broadcasters as the country continues to reform and develop.
“It is essential to have the law as our country is going through changes in the system,” said Tin Wan. “The law is a must-have.”
Tin Wan went on to say the piece of legislation should help facilitate freedom and development for the country’s citizens.
He said the broadcasting law being drafted also includes regulations concerning foreign broadcasts; however, the law did not specify when such media organizations would be granted licenses.
“For now, we have some [foreign] channels included in pay channel packages, but for free channels, I think it may take a while. We are including regulations in the draft law regarding foreign media broadcastings but it might be difficult for the government to immediately start considering granting licenses for them,” he said.
During President Thein Sein’s inaugural speech on 31 March 2011, the leader said new laws and rules should not be written to obstruct fundamental rights of the citizens but should serve as checks and balances for these rights “without harming the interest of the Union and human society.”
Deputy-minister Soe Win, quoting the president’s speech, said the new broadcasting law should not be drafted with the intention of banning or hampering press freedom but ‘should facilitate the correct use of press freedom for long-term progress of the [Burmese] media [sector] without damaging the interest of human society.’