By Ko Htwe
An interim press council will form in June following a presidential order aimed at dealing with media regulations before the country’s new media law is adopted.
Government’s Information Minister Kyaw Hsan instructed representatives from several independent press associations to nominate six people each from their organisations to participate in the new council.
The minister made the announcement yesterday during a meeting at the state-run Myanmar [Burma] Radio and Television’s headquarters.
He said the council would work to protect media freedom in the country under existing laws and to ensure the press abides by the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Law and the 12 press scrutiny policies, which forces publications to submit their articles to censors before being published.
The council’s responsibilities are to protect the interest of the people, the State and sovereignty from being harmed by the press media – similar mandates that were given to state’s censorship board, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division.
The press council has also been asked to provide the government with suggestions regarding issues involving regulations that infringe on the fourth estate’s rights, communication with international press organisations and training to improve media workers within the country.
The Information Department director Ye Tint and Tint Shwe, head of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, also attended the meeting.
In the past year, Burma’s media environment has enjoyed a relaxation of several of the former junta’s draconian censorship laws. Journals have published controversial interviews and taken on government leaders. However, without a new media law, editors and journalists are still vulnerable to harassment and prosecution.
In April, the Myanmar Post Global was punished and prevented from printing its supplementary pages for two weeks after the publication failed to submit articles to censors before they were printed.