It has been a landmark few days in Myanmar's rapidly developing media scene. On April 1, four of the 16 permitted newspapers launched the first editions of their new daily papers—they are the first privately-owned dailies to be published in the country in more than 50 years.
And, on Saturday, the Ministry of Information informed the Associated Press (AP) that it would be the first international news agency allowed to open a bureau in Yangon. The newswire has operated in the country for many years, with correspondents like Aye Aye Win producing award-winning journalism for the agency since 1989, and her father, Sein Win, before her.
“AP has a proud history of reportage from Myanmar, and the new multimedia bureau marks the beginning of an even more robust commitment,” said the non-profit company's President and CEO Gary Pruitt in an AP report. “We hope to build on our efforts and cover the important changes there for many years to come.”
Japanese broadcaster NHK was also granted a license to open an office in Yangon. Under the previous regime, only Chinese news agencies Xinhua and Guanming were permitted to have staff on the ground in Myanmar.
State-run daily newspapers reported on March 26 that the authorizing committee for daily publications had yet to decide on three more pending applications. If permitted it would bring the total of daily newspapers in Myanmar to 19.
Last month, the government announced that it has suspended its draft media law until parliamentary sessions resume after Myanmar's traditional Water Festival ends on April 17.
London-based rights group Article 19 previously said that the draft of the Myanmar’s new media bill falls short of international standards.
The organization said at the end of February in a statement that the new press bill to be presented in Parliament “retains a vagueness that will leave the print media open to abuse from the government and other powerful actors.”
It said that the draft Press Law Bill (2013), if passed, would undermine the role of journalists and overly restrict their work.