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Burma media council formed without journalists' input

(Mizzima News/IFEX) - 14 August 2012 - Widespread criticism and disappointment greeted the Burmese government's formation of the Myanmar Core Press Council (MCPC), which was announced in state-run media on 10 August.

Critics faulted the government for forming the council without the input of professional journalists' groups, which had consistently asked for a role in the formation of the state-appointed body.

The government announced a 20-member core press council that it said was charged with protecting media workers, establishing ethics and settling press disputes.

"I don't think the council will guarantee press freedom,'' a veteran journalist said, according to an article in Eleven Media Group (EMG) on 13 August.

Comments by EMG and other journalists do not bode well for the government's announcement that it is rewriting the media laws of the country and will submit the new law to Parliament during the current session, which ends in August.

"Some members of the council have records of breaching journalism ethics," said an EMG editor. "So how could they work for journalism ethics? And some are publishers, so there will be conflicts of interest in the future."

Mizzima recently reported on a Burmese journalists' walking demonstration in Rangoon in support of freedom of speech and the press.

Wearing black T-shirts with the message "Stop Killing Press," nearly 100 journalists demonstrated as the government prepared the new media law to be presented to Parliament without the joint cooperation of major journalists' groups and leaders.

A petition by the newly formed Press Freedom Committee called for an end to all "oppressive" media laws, and the promotion of free speech and a free press in Burma. News media in Burma are still subject to prior censorship laws, which require them to pass all stories through government censors prior to publication.

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