Strong support for current media reforms in Myanmar
With over 300 participants,the 2nd Conference on Media Development in Myanmar on 20 – 21
May in Yangon marked another significant milestone in Myanmar’s media reform process
Yangon,22 May,2013 ... Under the theme ‘The Role of Media in Democratic Transitions: Successes,Challenges
and the Way Forward’, government officials, private and state-owned media companies, professional journalist associations, academia,civil society and international organizations met to take stock of the media reforms in Myanmar and develop a set of practical recommendations for further media development in Myanmar.
The conference organized by the Ministry of Information and the Myanmar Media Development Thematic Working Group (MDTWG) in partnership with UNESCO and International Media Support (IMS) took place after a year of significant change in Myanmar’s media sector.The abolishment of censorship, the drafting of new media laws, the establishment of an interim press council and the recent re-emergence of Myanmar’s first private daily newspapers are some of the many milestones in the year gone by.
“This year’s journey of media development has shown the importance of committed ties between the Government, UNESCO,IMS,the interim press council, the local and international media institutions and civil society.Our country’s media reform cannot be fully accomplished without the active participation of all of you,”said H.E.U Aung Kyi, Union Minister for Information, at the opening of the conference.
Speaking on behalf of the embassies of Denmark,Sweden and Norway who were key donors of the conference,Danish Ambassador Mikael Winther said:“Free media is the cornerstone of a democratic society. Independent journalism requires real independence from economic and political ownership; proper education and further training; and profitable companies that reinvest in journalism. We will continue to partner with Myanmar in its reform process towards truly independent and free media.”
Ambitious,but achievable agenda for media development
Discussions yielded many policy options and an agenda for future action. Participants emphasized the need for access to information and the passage of a freedom of information law; policies and programmes which will support wider distribution of newspapers and journals in remote communities; and!greater transparency by national and local officials in dealing with the news media.As the private sector begins to invest more in the media sector,an agenda on how to ensure a fair and competitive business environment was discussed.
Capacity development of journalists was identified as a main priority together with academic degrees and short-term courses.Parameters for media coverage of the peace process, elections, human rights and other development concerns were also laid down.
“The conference reaffirmed a strong commitment to an ambitious but achievable agenda for media development in Myanmar,” said Jesper Højberg,Executive Director of International Media Support (IMS).
“We must take into account all the building blocks of a media sector which include addressing media laws that ensure media freedom and the safety of journalists; supporting strong journalist unions and associations which are the backbone of a media sector’s infrastructure and skills training of journalists that ensures professional media content,outreach and access to information for all," he continued.
Momentum of media reform process must be sustained
The conference saw strong participation from the local level, with at least 1/3 of the national participants travelling from outside Yangon to take part. UNESCO Deputy regional director Etienne Clement expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the conference.He noted that it was a very inclusive forum as journalists from local and ethnic media actively participated as speakers and participants. He challenged the participants to now focus on the next steps.
“After listening to commitments,plans of action and success stories,we should now continue with concrete actions to ensure that Myanmar becomes a real showcase of successful democratic transition.” Clement also reminded the participants from diverse sectors of the importance of working together,” he said.
The conference ended on a note of optimism that the momentum for media reform can be sustained or even accelerated with more stakeholders involved.
For more information (agenda, speakers,documentation and full list of contributing partners) visit
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