Roundtable on Myanmar’s Media Landscape: Changes and Challenges

The roundtable discussion discussed the contours of the changing media landscape in Myanmar, and the challenges going forward.


Panel 1 (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

23 March 2017 –  The Myanmar Studies Programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute convened a roundtable to discuss the changing contours of the media landscape in Myanmar, and issues and challenges relating to further reforms of the country’s media. Representatives of the print/online and broadcast media in Myanmar shared their insights and perspectives on topics ranging from the existing legal framework and prospects for the evolution of that framework, media reforms and the private media, the civil-society role of the media, and the dynamics and potential of broadcast media.

Panel 2 (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

A summary of the roundtable discussions will be released soon.  Key points covered in the discussions include:

  • The media reforms initiated in 2011 were the first step towards establishing the media as a platform for democratic discourse, and thus towards levelling the playing field for print and broadcast media and eventually transforming state-owned media into public service media.
  • The abolition of the press censorship board, the allowing of private dailies, and relaxed restrictions on reporting political news and the activities of political parties encouraged prominent exile media organisations such as Mizzima, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), and the Irrawaddy to establish presences in Myanmar starting in Mizzima pioneered moves to establish journalists’ associations as well as to advocate for greater inclusivity and diversity. The DVB established its presence and reach in online broadcasting, while the Irrawaddy continued to highlight issues from “both sides of the coin” in the country’s democratisation. Local-language journals such as The Voice and English-language media such as Frontier provide context for current issues in – or relevant to – Myanmar.
  • While it is clear that the media and press are now operating in a much freer atmosphere, the post-2015 landscape nevertheless features some challenges. These include the continued use of opaque legislation for defamation suits, the explosion of social media (particularly Facebook) and the threat that they posed to private news outlets, concerns over reporting on sensitive or out-of-bounds issues, and the generally thin capacity of journalists and media entities to remain relevant in covering fast-paced developments.


Participants at the seminar (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

More than 50 attendees, including diplomats, government officials, members of the business and research communities, students and members of the media attended the event.