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Published on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 20:42
Since it was established in mid-September last year the interim press council of Myanmar has received 30 complaints against media outlets from governmental bodies, political parties and private companies, the council’s secretary told a recent press conference.
The complaints were filed against 29 news journals and one magazine, said council secretary Kyaw Min Swe who described the council’s role as a mediator for resolving conflicts between news outlets and the organisations they report on.
He also said that the new media law being drafted by the government aimed to protect media outlets. "We have inserted a provision in the upcoming media law that if any government department or social organization wants to sue [a media outlet] for its coverage, and the problem cannot be solved through various channels in this civilised society, they must seek approval of the press council before doing so. I think this provision will protect media staff," Kyaw Min Swe explained.
The press council has already successfully mediated a dispute between the Ministry of Mining and Voice News Weekly Journal that they saw the ministry drop its defamation against the newspaper on January 11. It had sued Voice News over a report on allegations of corruption at the ministry that was printed in March last year.
The council is also mediating a dispute between the Yangon Region government and Snapshot News Journal for publishing an inflammatory picture of the corpse of a young woman who had been raped and murdered in May last year. Publication of the photograph sparked sectarian violence in western state of Rakhine.
Earlier this month, however, the government banned publication of the country’s first sex-education magazine, Nhyot, saying it had veered too close to pornography.
Six other publications – Media One, The Farmer, Ad World, Myanandar, High Speed Car, New Blood and Aesthetics – have also been warned that they will be monitored for one month after being told that some of their content was irrelevant, sources said.
The interim press council has 29 members and was established on September 17 soon after the government abolished pre-censorship. Sources say those who previously worked as censors have been shifted to media monitoring roles.
Reformist President Thein Sein’s government has pledged to replace draconian legislation that imposes restrictions on press freedom this year.