The Irrawaddy

Former Exiled News Outlets Granted Licenses for State Media Channel

Television reporters work inside a studio in Rangoon, May 5, 2014. Two years after Myanmar scrapped censorship in one of its boldest reforms, its journalists are again living in fear of jail and are convinced a state-sponsored crackdown is under way to limit press freedom. Eight members of the media have been arrested since December and two jailed in what critics say is government backsliding on some of the wide-ranging reforms that led the West to lift sanctions after decades of military rule. Picture taken May 5. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: MEDIA) - RTR3OM5K

RANGOON — Two former exiled news outlets—the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and Mizzima—have been selected to run their own digital channels in Burma under the state-owned Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV).

In late 2016, the Ministry of Information (MOI) put out a call to local companies interested in becoming content providers for MRTV. Out of the 42 that expressed interest, 29 submitted formal proposals, which were then shortlisted to 10.

MRTV announced the five companies granted broadcasting licenses on Tuesday. These are: Young Investment Group Co., Ltd; Fortune International Co. Ltd; Kaung Myanmar Aung Co.,Ltd; DVB Multi Media Group., Ltd; and Mizzima Media Co., Ltd.

The five were selected after being assessed for transparency, strong capital, a legal background history and conformance to policy guideline, the MRTV stated in the announcement.

MRTV was set up in 1979, and for decades was used to broadcast propaganda by Burma’s former military regime.

Launched in 1992 by exiled Burmese activists in Oslo, Norway, DVB long operated satellite radio programs and eventually satellite TV programming from Norway and Thailand before moving to Burma in 2012. It will now have a digital platform in Burma.

Mizzima was founded in New Delhi, India, in 1998 by Soe Myint, who in 1990 hijacked a Thai Airways plane flying from Bangkok to Rangoon in an act of protest against Burma’s former military regime.

Eleven Media Group was included in the shortlist but not selected. The group’s CEO U Than Htut Aung and chief editor U Wai Phyo are currently facing trials after being sued by Rangoon Division’s chief minister U Phyo Min Thein under defamation charges.