Myanmar Times Announces Launch of Daily Edition

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 9 February 2015

RANGOON — Local weekly newspaper The Myanmar Times has announced it will launch a daily print edition on March 9, a move that would make it the only private English-language daily in Burma.

The organization said in a press release that its daily would “feature 24 pages of local and international news, commentary and features and be available at newsstands Monday to Friday.”

“The launch of the daily is a milestone in the history of The Myanmar Times,” said chief executive officer Tony Child.

The plan would require the organization to step up its news-gathering operations and offer a test of the profitability of Burma’s fledgling media market.

Thomas Kean, editor of the Times’ English edition, said, “The Myanmar language daily and weekly market is saturated, but there is significantly less competition in English.” He said the daily will go on sale for 500 kyats (about US$0.50), while the Friday edition, which includes a weekend special with features, arts and culture, will cost 1,000 kyats.

In recent years, President Thein Sein’s nominally-civilian government has relaxed junta-era controls on the media, including lifting a ban on private dailies in April 2013.

Since then, numerous weeklies and dailies have been set up, mostly in the local language, many of which struggled to stay afloat and compete with state-run newspapers, which are sold at low prices and benefit from existing distribution networks. Recently, Mizzima Media Group announced it will end print publication of its daily Burmese-language newspaper per March 1.

Currently, there are about 15 local-language dailies in publication; the government-run Global New Light of Myanmar is the only English-language daily.

Sonny Swe, who co-founded the Times and until recently was CEO at Mizzima Media Group, said there could be room in the market for an independent English daily.

“There are no other competitors, so for them is good. But I heard some other publications are also trying to launch an English daily, for instance Weekly Eleven and The Trade Times. If The Myanmar Times can take market share before they launch, it will be good timing,” he said.

In 2013, The Myanma Freedom Daily became the first English-language daily to go into print in decades, but publication was suspended in March 2014. Its founding editor-in-chief Thiha Saw subsequently joined The Myanmar Times in order to help it go a daily, after local tycoon Thein Tun, who owns Myanmar Golden Star conglomerate, bought a majority stake in the company.