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October 14, 2019

The role of state-run media in an emerging democracy

  • There has been considerable discussion over whether state-run media should be allowed in Myanmar.
    Myanmar has experienced the consequences of the wrong administrative system for decades. Today’s generation is left with a legacy of problems that we must now tackle. Different approaches to a problem produce diverse opinions. Showing respect for diverse views and thoughts, the elected government has a responsibility to clarify to the people these diverse views so that the people can understand the realistic situation of their country.
    The role of state-run media could be seen as the sine qua non in the Rakhine issue, in which some foreign countries’ interference, some international media’s bias, and some international media’s ignorance of the true situation were evident. In this situation, state-run media is necessary for the country and its people.
    Recently, some have said that tax exemption should be granted to private print media so that it can develop. But how the commercial tax has caused a burden on the private media, which are currently struggling to survive, needs to be reviewed.
    Commercial taxes from local print media in the 2016-2017 fiscal year totaled more than Ks600 million. It is questionable that granting commercial tax exemption is a correct decision at a time when the country is facing a budget deficiency. At the same time, we should seek other ways that can develop the private media industry, which is facing crippling distribution problems, rising costs and decreasing circulation.
    Nationwide distribution is hobbled by transportation bottlenecks. Most private daily newspapers print in Yangon and face difficulties distributing newspapers to other big cities in a timely manner.
    Hence, we should take a better distribution system into consideration to develop the private print media industry. The range of problems facing the dailies includes not only greater competition but also the cost of newsprint, printing, and electricity.
    Assisting the private media industry to be able to use modern machinery for printing and buying publications for libraries nationwide should also be considered.
    When we approach the issue of the future of state-run print media and the issue of the development of the private print media industry, the answer should reflect the realistic situation of the country.

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