Aung Kyi, Burma’s new information minister, on Sunday said newspapers would be able to publish daily from early 2013, bringing in a new information era for Burma.
Aung Kyi told the Myanmar Times, a private English language weekly, that state-owned newspapers would probably be transformed by private sector involvement in the coming months.
“It is my sincere belief that daily [private sector] newspapers are essential for a democratic country,” said Aung Kyi, who replaced a hardliner last week when he was appointed as part of a cabinet reshuffle seen as promoting reformists.
The former labour minister, who acted as the liaison between the government and democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, said a code of practice should be discussed before changes were made to publication rules for private weekly journals.
He declined to give a firm date for the issuing of daily publication licenses to private sector news groups – many of which have turned to the web to provide up-to-the-minute content for a population hungry for information after years of restrictions – but estimated it could be “early next year,” according to an Agency France Presse article.
"I am sincere in wanting to achieve a comprehensive press media law that meets international standards," he said, suggesting that the new proposed legislation could be delayed to give time for consultation with journalists and experts (See Mizzima’s story today on the Myanmar Journalists Association.)
In August, Burma announced the end of pre-publication censorship, previously applied to everything from newspapers to song lyrics and even fairy tales.
State-owned dailies include the English language, state-backed New Light of Myanmar, which has shown few signs of modernizing since the country began its reforms.
But Aung Kyi said the state publications were in line for “significant changes.”
Reporters jailed under the junta have also been freed from prison and a lighter touch from censors had already seen private weekly journals publish an increasingly spectrum of subject matter, in spite of a spat of suits lately, both by government officials and private citizens and businesses.
Two journals were recently suspended for a fortnight for prematurely printing stories without prior approval from the censors, prompting dozens of journalists to take to the streets in protest.
And the mining ministry is suing a weekly publication that reported the auditor-general's office had discovered misappropriations of funds and fraud in the organization.