A law protecting ethnic media must be drafted, as the burgeoning industry was overlooked by the 2012 media law, according to participants at a recent ethnic media conference.
Held in Loikaw, Kayah (Karenni) State from June 26 to 28, the fifth ethnic media conference was led by Burma News International (BNI) and Kayah State-based member organization The Kantarawaddy Times.
Participants, including representatives from the Ministry of Information, the Myanmar Press Council, journalists and members of ethnic media groups, agreed on the need to draft a comprehensive policy to enshrine ethnic voices within the media landscape.
“The role of ethnic media was not included in the media law, which was enacted in 2012. By drafting this ethnic media policy, we can urge the government and parliament to include ethnic media when enacting laws and bylaws,” said U Nai Kasauh Mon, executive director of BNI.
U Nai Kasauh Mon said some states have failed to recognize ethnic media organizations, which are also struggling to obtain information from the government and parliament.
“The situation is different between the states. In some states, both the government and the local parliament welcome the media. The journalists are allowed to interview the chief minister and ministers. But in [other] states, the media is not even allowed inside parliament. I have heard about them being kicked out when important issues are being discussed. The democracy of these states is questionable if the media is not recognized,” he said.
In addition to the need for a policy, conference participants discussed developing the sector, boosting involvement of women and disabled persons in ethnic media, ensuring the security of journalists and promoting the idea of right to information.
Previous ethnic media conferences have been held in Mawlamyine, Taunggyi, Hakha and Mrauk-U.