(U//FOUO) Open Source Center Burmese Media at a Glance


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OSC Media Aid: Burmese Media at a Glance

SEF20090102463001 Burma — OSC Media Aid in English 02 Jan 09

Burmese Media at a Glance

The Burmese Government strictly regulates media across all outlets and genres. Print and broadcast media predominantly carry formulaic reports on the military regime’s activities and accomplishments, and even literature and entertainment are censored. The public does, however, receive uncensored media through widespread access to foreign radio, and a limited number with satellite TV can view Western and Burmese exile news. Low household income is a constraint on media consumption.

A 2005 national survey reported the following figures for weekly media consumption (BBC World Service Trust, 2006):
● Television: 71%
● Radio: 38%
● Newspapers: 43% urban, 16% rural
● Internet: 14% urban, 3% rural

The most popular TV stations are state-run MRTV and Army-run Myawady TV, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the news on both stations has low ratings. It is unclear how many people have satellite TV dishes, which authorities have confiscated in the past.

State-run Radio Myanmar is the country’s leading radio station. Official media regularly denounce the BBC and the Voice of America, but many Burmese still listen to these stations.

The three official newspapers — Myanmar Alin and Kyemon (The Mirror) in Burmese and The New Light of Myanmar in English — carry almost identical news. No current circulation figures are available, but, reportedly, few members of the general public read them.

Burma’s over 100 unofficial magazines are the most popular form of print media. Magazines such as 7 Day News Journal, Weekly Eleven News, Bi-Weekly Eleven, and The Voice provide local business and social news and sometimes carry interesting information not carried in official press.

Internet use appears to have increased since 2005, and ID cards are no longer required to use the approximately 240 Internet cafes in Rangoon. Access to major exile websites such as Irrawaddy (www.irrawaddy.org/) and Democratic Voice of Burma (www.dvb.no) is restricted, but people using computers at home may evade these restrictions via proxy servers. There are few non-governmental domestic websites of interest, but some Burmese have started blogs on technical subjects such as computer technology.

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