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UNESCO in Myanmar co-organized a media conference with Myanmar's Ministry of Information. (Credit: UNESCO, screenshot)

Myanmar’s Ministry of Information and UNESCO co-organized a two-day conference earlier this week, Asian news site Asian Correspondent reported.

According to Asian Correspondent, the March 19-20 conference weighed in on media freedom, media future, “the needs and challenges of the media,” media regulation, media ethics and more.

Specifically on ethics, Tempo International Media’s CEO, Bambang Harymurti, addressed “the fundamentals of laws, rules and codes of ethics concerning media practices,” and Asia Internews’s Regional Director Oren Murphy highlighted the “rights and ethics of the journalist in democratic transition,” Asian Correspondent noted.

At that conference, government official Yi Htut explained the government has a “two-track strategy” for its forthcoming media law in which is creates a “new print media law” and then has “a gradual relaxation of restrictions,” Mizzima reported.

Htut is the Information and Public Relations director general for Myanmar’s Ministry of Information.

Currently, the new media law is in its “second draft” stage and media groups and UNESCO are weighing in on it, he said according to Mizzima.  According to Bernama news agency, the law “will be submitted to Myanmar’s next session of union parliament.”  We previously wrote about the former draft law and reactions to it here.

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Htut noted that the government has loosened prior censorship in the past year. As Mizzima explained:

“He said from June to November 2011, a total of 82 journals and 96 magazines were allowed to publish without pre-publication censorship. In December 2011, 32 journals and 22 magazines were added to the list, and in March 2012, 3 journals and 10 magazines were added, making a total of 173 journals and 124 magazines free from prior censorship in that period.”

We have written to UNESCO Myanmar for more information about the conference and will update with any response.

Meanwhile, in a March 19 press release, the International Press Institute noted that Myanmar’s Ministry of Mines said mid-March it plans to sue Myanmar weekly newspaper The Voice over its critical story of the government agency.

As the International Press Institute explained, the story “alleged misuse of public funds by the Ministry of Mines and other ministries. The editor of the newspaper stated that the newspaper received the information too late and did not have time to submit the story to the PSRD for prior censorship.”

Mizzima explained that The Voice’s March 12 article charged the Ministry of Mines with having sold half of its “shares in the Monywa cooper mines” for US$100 million to “the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL), but that a foreign company paid the money on behalf of UMEHL. ”  The Ministry of Mines “denies” the claim, according to Miizzima.

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Myanmar Media Conference Discusses Ethics, New Media Law

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