Myanma Freedom Daily Newspaper Suspends Operations

By Saw Yan Naing 31 March 2014

RANGOON — The Myanma Freedom Daily, one of two English-language private daily newspapers in Burma, has temporarily suspended its operations, the publication’s founder says.

Thiha Saw, a veteran Burmese journalist who founded the Rangoon-based daily last year, said the newspaper suspended its operations on Monday and would resume publishing within the next couple of months.

“We temporarily suspended the paper because we need to reorganize our operations and move our office. It could be one week, one month or up to two months. We can’t say certainly, but it won’t take long,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“If we want to go for long term, we need to reorganize our current daily operations system. We have capacity challenges. We don’t have many well-trained journalists.”

Thiha Saw, who is also a member of the Interim Press Council and vice president of the Myanmar Journalists Association, said human and financial resources contributed to the decision to suspend the daily, but that pressure from the government was not a factor. He added that the newspaper’s subscribers continued to grow.

He said the newspaper reached 97 countries, with a circulation of about 10,000 copies daily. It targets expats, officials at embassies and airlines, NGOs, tourists and other English-speaking readers.

The Myanma Freedom Daily and the International Herald Tribune were the only two English-language newspapers among 10 private dailies that received publication licenses from the Ministry of Information on April 30 last year.

A total of 26 English- and Burmese-language dailies are now operating with publication licenses from the government, including 7Day News Journal, the Yangon Times, Mizzima, The Voice, Myanmar Newsweek and the Standard Times.

Prior to April 2013, private dailies had been banned for decades under the former military regime.

Over the past year, owners of private dailies have struggled financially to manage their operations. Many publications rely on advertisements, while others are backed by private investors. Most do not earn enough from the profits of their circulation, with the price of domestic publications ranging from between 200 kyats and 500 kyats (US$0.20 to $0.50) per issue.

“So far, there is no private newspaper that has profited from circulation sales,” said Thiha Saw.