20 November 2023.
The military junta which is ruling Myanmar adopted another set of regressive amendments to the erstwhile progressive Broadcasting Act last week, following their first set of amendments in November 2021. The current amendments give the military junta full control over the National Broadcasting Council, which was in the original version of the Act intended to be an independent broadcast regulator. Among other things, the military-run State Administration Council will appoint the members, with the earlier provisions on appointments and protection of tenure, designed to bolster the independence of the Council, having been suspended.
“The Centre for Law and Democracy welcomed the Broadcasting Act back in August 2015, when it was first adopted, due to its progressive approach to broadcast regulation, including through the establishment of a robustly independent regulator,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “The current amendments utterly deprive the Act of any democratic legitimacy and further expand the already very extensive control of the military over the media inside Myanmar.”
The 2021 amendments expanded the definition of broadcasting to cover the use of “any other technology for the people to directly catch the television and radio programmes”, while the original law had expressly excluded Internet-based broadcasting. Those amendments also introduced prison sentences for a number of administrative breaches of the Act, all with minimum sentences of at least six months. CLD produced a detailed analysis of the earlier amendments, which is available in English and Burmese here.
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