Members of Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN) said that only parliament could decide on stopping the publishing one of the two state-run daily papers, either ‘The New Light of Myanmar’ (NLM) or ‘The Mirror’, and continue publishing the remaining one.
MJN members said this following the suggestions of the Union Information Minister Dr. Pe Myint and Deputy Union Minister Aung Hla Tun while discussing the issue at a meeting with the press organizations MJN, Myanmar Press Council (MPC) and Myanmar Journalists Union on December 27 in Yangon.
MJN executive committee member Kyaw Zeya said, “MJN discussed with union minister for either stopping publishing of all state-run daily papers or continue publishing only one of these papers. And then the union minister replied that the ministry alone could not decide on that issue and it must be deliberated in parliament and pass a resolution for adopting policy on state-run media by division of votes in parliament session. If this new policy calls for abolishing all state-run media we will stop all these publications. The union minister disclosed a way for stopping these state-run media houses to us today. The union minister said that he could do it if it will come from parliament channels.”
He added that the minister told them the calls made by media organizations for either stopping these state-run media houses or reducing the circulation of these media would not be successful and viable.
Myanmar Journalists Union Chairman Zaw Thet Htwe said, “We could not achieve any remarkable results in the entire 2019 but only one which gave commercial tax exemption to private media. This exemption was given through the parliament channel and then we did not get considerable help from government and also the readership of daily papers and journals has drastically dropped. The main difficulty we are facing is the decline of ad revenue in the private media. So many daily papers had to stop their publications and so did the journals.”
Currently many private media had stopped their publications gradually and only five are still running and also some of the weekly journals have reportedly suspended their publications temporarily.
Similarly ‘Democracy Today’ daily paper had to stop their publication as it was running in red and also Yangon City daily paper being published by Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has reportedly made an announcement that they would stop their publication starting from January 2020.
According to the figures released by the MPC in July 2019, currently a total 16 daily papers are being published in Myanmar (but the Information Ministry says that the number is only 15 including private media houses), and also 170 journals and 120 magazines are being published and there are 193 news agencies in Myanmar.
In 16 daily papers being published in Myanmar, seven are private, three are state-run, two are published by Tatmadaw (Defence Services), two are YCDC and two are from Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC). ‘Democracy Today’ paper stopped last month.