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Publishers fear delays by new censor board

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Publishers in Burma have expressed concern over the formation of new censorship teams under the junta’s tough media watchdog fearing even further difficulties for their publications under a regime already infamous for its stranglehold on the press.

The media is concerned over potential publishing delays after system changes at the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (censor board) – under the Ministry of Information – at Bahan Township, Rangoon. Publications were censored by five teams comprising three members each but a 12-member single team was established last week, and publishers are worried about the team’s ability to finish their work as quickly.

“We are worrying about timely completion of their censorship work as they [team members] have to scrutinise more than 20 journals,” a Rangoon-based weekly journal’s editor said. “We are concerned over delays in our publications and possibly more complications in the process.”

The current board director is Major Tint Swe and additional director Lieutenant Colonel Myo Myint Maung from the navy, who took office at the end of last month.

Tint Swe will be promoted to deputy director general of a department under the Information Ministry soon, and Myo Myint Maung will assume the directorship.

The latter has already been working in news censorship, tightening rules on political reports. Journals used to be able to submit supplementary news or breaking news a day later when the office was under the control of Tint Swe. Myo Myint Maung has changed this system, however,  and ordered that journals submit work during office hours, the editor of another journal said.

“According to this new system, we have to complete our draft copies on time and early. Previously we were exempted from their rules and had an understanding with them,” he told Mizzima. “Now … we cannot do this. We must present our draft copies before 3 p.m. while their censorship workshop is in progress. We cannot submit the breaking news we get in the evening.”

The censor board consists of one director, two additional directors, two assistant directors and four officers.
Media outlets can publish only after the censorship teams have read their draft copies, forwarded them to higher authorities and obtained final approval from the director. Draft copies must be submitted three days in advance. The board takes two days to read them and printing takes another two days, which means it takes a week to publishing journals.

“They [the board has] tightened on political news, political educational articles and opinions,” a journal editor said. “They do not give approval on political party movements, and their election campaigns. We must submit political news in our first draft copy. They do not accept submitting them in supplementary copies.”

The journals have to submit draft copies in two parts. First they have to submit news copies and then three more pages on A4 paper as a second draft. The office has reduced it to only two more pages on A4 paper, a journal editor said.

The additional political news shall not be included in these extra two pages on A4 paper, Myo Myint Maung reportedly told a journal editor yesterday.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 June 2010 19:32 )  

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