Myanmar relaxes media censorship
The authorities in Myanmar have abolished pre-publication censorship of the media.
The Press Scrutiny and Registration Department (PSRD) said that from Monday, reporters would no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication.
Myanmar has kept tight control over all aspects of its media for about 50 years but, since taking office last year, the civilian government has been gradually easing restrictions.
’’Any publication inside the country will not have to get prior permission from us before they are published...From now on, our department will just carry out registering publications for keeping them at the national archives and issuing a license to printers and publishers,’’ head of the PSRD, Tint Swe said in an interview on Monday.
New media law means:
- Pre-publication censorship dropped
- New media law to abolish political censorship
- Access to news sites unblocked
- Government pledges to support private media
Tint Swe said the likelihood of permission being granted for private newspapers to be set up was ‘closer than before’ and could happen after a new media law is enacted.
New media is progress on the past
A ministry official said films would still be subject to censorship.
Editor of the Weekly Eleven journal, Wai Phyo, said the move was ‘a big improvement on the past’, but that editors would now be under increasing pressure to ensure their publications remained legal.
In the past, entire newspapers have been shut because of their reports and many reporters have been jailed.
In recent months however, journalists have been given guidelines allowing them to write about controversial topics.
About 300 newspapers and magazines covering less sensitive issues have already been given permission to print without prior censorship and restrictions were lifted on 30,000 internet sites, allowing users unrestricted access to political content for the first time.
In October last year, indication emerged that censorship would be reeled as the PSRD said censorship was incompatible with democratic practices while warning that all publications must accept the responsibilities that go with press freedom.