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(Credit: Mizzima, screenshot)

Myanmar will get a press council next month, Burmese “independent news media group” Irrawaddy reported.

According to Burmese news site Mizzima, the press council was announced by the government’s Information Minister Kyaw Hsan and council members are to “include representatives from Myanmar Journalist Association (MJA), Myanmar Journalist Union (MJU) and the Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN). ”

Myanmar Journalists Association Organizing Committee’s Maung Wuntha said the council has to be independent of the government and that the council will serve as “complaints resolution.”  However, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Shawn Crispin said the press council “looks disturbingly similar to the outgoing pre-publication censorship board” because the press council is supposed to regulate for censorship guidelines, according to Irrawaddy.

With the council and a new media law, prior censorship should also be ended although news outlets will still have to “submit articles after publication” to the government, according to Mizzima.  Also, Hsan said “Burma’s censorship board, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division,” will end, Irrawaddy reported.

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Further, the Myanmar Journalists Association, Journalists Network and Journalists Union have criticized the planned press council because the press council is supposed to “operate” under a governmental department, Myanmar Journalists Association’s Ko Ko told Irrawaddy.

Eurasia Review and “independent Burmese media organisation” Democratic Voice of Burma noted that last month, the government restricted “weekly news journal” Myanmar Post Global for not giving censors its “two-page supplement” prior to publication.  Because the journal didn’t get its content reviewed, the censors “punished” the journal by saying it can’t “print its supplementary pages for two weeks.”

Irrawaddy noted that earlier this month, the Committee to Protect Journalists placed Burma as “the seventh worst country in the world for press censorship.”

We wrote in February about a proposed media law that would end prior censorship of Burmese media outlets but still have outlets be “reviewed” post-publication.  In 2011, Burma let 178 of its 358 media outlets publish without prior restraint (but still required the outlets to be reviewed after publication).

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