Yangon, 11 December 2015 – Over 200 representatives of media, government and civil society met on 10-11 December at the 4th Conference on Media Development in Myanmar.
The conference brought together not just media in Yangon, but ethnic media, state media, government officials and representatives from main political parties.
The conference featured discussions on topics such as access to information, broadcast expansion, protection of journalists, the ethnic media landscape, community media and the uneven gender balance in media, and social media.
The conference took place as the foundation and priorities of a new government are being laid in the coming months following landmark elections in November. U Ye Htut, the outgoing Minister for Information, in his opening address said that Myanmar should be ‘proud’ of its achievement in the field of media development over the past 4 years.
“While other Asian countries face big problems in their media environment Myanmar has changed. People in neighboring countries are now asking their governments: Look to Myanmar.”
The minister stressed that reforms should continue under the new government. He highlighted the need to ensure access to information, especially for marginalized groups and populations not covered by mainstream media.
The National League for Democracy, winning party of the November elections, was also represented at the conference. U Aung Shin, Member of the NLD Central Committee and Central Information Committee, in his address spoke about national reconciliation as a prerequisite for democratic development.
“The only way to will build a democratic society is by believing in each other. By identifying and solving challenges together we believe that media can help make positive changes in the country,” said U Aung Shin, who also informed participants that NLD in a new government would be committed to the process of finalizing a Rights to Information law and engage in further reform in this area.
The past three conferences have provided important ‘stocktaking’ and helped facilitate dialogue between government, the media community and the civil society. They have reported on concrete progress achieved by various sectors and organizations in pursuing media development and media reforms in Myanmar, identified challenges and opportunities, and proposed specific policy and action agenda to take advantage of opportunities.
This year’s conference was more inclusive and diverse than ever, with most organisations involved in media development in Myanmar being part of the conference’s steering committee. It had 10 ethnic media houses represented in the talks, and more than 80 journalists from outside Yangon taking part.
The five organisations behind the conference: Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA), Myanmar Journalists Network (MJN), Myanmar Journalists Union (MJU), Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI) and the ethnic media network Burma News International (BNI), are themselves testimony to the progress that has been achieved since 2011.
The 4th Myanmar Media Development Conference is supported by the Myanmar Ministry of Information (MoI), UNESCO, International Media Support, Deutsche Welle Akademie, USAID, BBC Media Action, Centre for Law and Democracy, FOJO Media Institute, Internews, UNDP, ARTICLE 19, FHI 360, as well as with the support of the embassies of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany.
The first Myanmar Media Development Conference in Yangon took place in March 2012. The meeting was the first of its kind in Myanmar to specifically address media development in a gathering of national and international media stakeholders.
For more information, visit www.myanmarmediadevelopment.org or call Myo Min Htike on Tel. 09254314803.