According to the AFP, a proposed media law in Myanmar will allow media outlets to publish stories and photos about Aung San Suu Kyi, the “leader of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy,” among other things. The law “could sweep away half a century of heavy-handed censorship,” the AFP explained.
Other noteworthy changes include: news outlets will be “reviewed” post-publication instead of prior, according to the AFP and Christian Science Monitor. An exception relates to political reporting. Christian Science Monitor explained: “The country’s censors, known officially as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department (PSRD), still require all publications to submit political news content to them for vetting prior to publication.”
We wrote in June of last year when Myanmar’s ruling junta allowed 178 of its 358 media outlets to publish without censorship. Those outlets were still to be reviewed after publication.
While “the draft has not been made public,” the Myanmar Times told the AFP that the draft law’s “11 articles cover areas such as journalists’ rights, professional ethics, and how publishers and distributors will be registered.”
According to Asian Correspondent, the Burma Media Association has expressed concerns about the new law. In a Feb. 9 press release, the association questioned if the proposed law would “guarantee freedom of press as well as freedom of expression.”
The International Federation of Journalists backed that statement in its own Feb. 10 press release. The two organizations are calling for Myanmar to “abolish the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act, and associated laws designed to restrict freedom of expression”
See here the IFJ’s press release, which noted that the law was “drafted by the Ministry of Information’s Press Scrutinization and Registration Department” and “introduced in January at a media workshop.” The IFJ expressed concerns at how much the law was “thoroughly” reviewed during the workshop and the lack of “details of the law” provided.
The law is “unlikely to be submitted to Parliament during the current session,” according to the Myanmar Times, which noted the “draft law does not include any changes to electronic media laws.”
Christian Science Monitor added that “publishers” want a total end to censorship and the ability to publish daily.
We have written to the Burma Media Association seeking more information about the proposed law and the group’s concerns. We will update with any response.