Burma says media censorship over


Burma’s government said today it would no longer censor local media outlets in the most dramatic move yet towards allowing freedom of expression in the long-repressed nation.

The southeast Asian nation’s media had long been regarded as among the most restricted in the world.

But President Thein Sein’s reformist government began easing media controls over the last year, allowing reporters to print articles that would have been unthinkable during the era of absolute military rule.

The Information Ministry, which has long controlled what can be printed, made the announcement on its website today.

The head of the ministry’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Department, Tint Swe, also conveyed the news to a group of editors in the country’s main city Yangon.

Under the new rules, journalists will no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication as they have for close to half a century.

However, reporters will still have to send their stories to the Press Scrutiny Department after publication so government monitors can determine whether their work violated any publishing laws, journalists said. It was not immediately clear to what degree that might result in self-censorship.

Previously, every song, book, cartoon, news report and planned piece of art required approval by teams of censors rooting out political messages and criticisms of one of Asia's most repressive governments.

Changes have gathered steam since June last year when the Ministry of Information decided to allow about half of Burma's privately run weekly journals and monthly magazines to publish without submitting page proofs to a censorship board in advance.

Today, restrictions were lifted on the remaining 80 political and six religious journals, said Tint Swe, head of the press censorship board at the Ministry of Information.