On This Day

When British Burma’s First Radio Station Went Live

By Wei Yan Aung 1 October 2019

YANGON—On this day 80 years ago, Burma State Broadcasting Service, the first broadcaster in Myanmar, was officially launched in Yangon. It was formally opened by the Governor of British Burma Sir Archibald Douglas Cochrane and the ceremony was attended by Prime Minister U Pu and ministers including Galon U Saw, who orchestrated the assassination of General Aung San.

The radio service was launched after a test run beginning in 1937 was successful and proved popular with the Myanmar audience.

The radio station aired a wide variety of programs including news, talk radio, music and Dhamma talks but the most popular programs were live broadcasts of football matches.

When World War II broke out two years after the service was launched, the British used the radio station to spread propaganda. Wartime programming highlighted the victories of the Allies in Europe. When hundreds of people were killed in bombings in Yangon, the radio service claimed that there were only a few casualties.

During the Japanese occupation, the service continued under the name All Burma Broadcasting Station. When the occupation ended, the name was changed to Burma Broadcasting Service.

Today, the service continues as Myanmar Radio and Television, the state-run broadcaster overseen by the Ministry of Information.