Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BBC seeks to establish office in Burma

Tuesday, 18 September 2012 12:51 Mizzima News

British Broadcasting Corporation’s World Service wants to establish an office in Burma, while also providing a training program for Burmese journalists.

Last week the BBC’s director Peter Horrocks met government officials and private broadcasters to push for the opportunity to operate legally inside the country, which is currently considering eliminating its notorious censorship department. In a series of reforms it has removed many restrictive press laws, while others remain in force.

The BBC delegation also proposed giving editorial and production training to journalists and editors at state media outlets and some private organizations, including Forever Group and Sky Net.

“The first thing that we want to do is offer a substantial training package and to establish a project office,” BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks told The Myanmar Times on September 8.

“We would hope to be able to develop from that a regular presence here for our journalists … but we also want to work closely with the media sector in Burma to help it to reform, to improve its standards,” Horrocks said.

“That ability to do the journalism from here is really important and the ability for people here to be able to see and hear our journalism is really important,” he said. “We would like all of our services in English, both television and radio, but also our Burmese language radio service to be on air as well and we’ll be talking to people about the possibility of that, not least because it would be good for the people inside the country to see and hear the journalism and be able to judge it for themselves.”

Despite the strict internal censorship at state media outlets, Horrocks said the BBC felt “the time is right” to start training government journalists.

“I think it’s partly the opportunity is there, we’re being invited, but it’s also something the BBC thinks about carefully, in terms of whether it’s appropriate to be working with journalistic organizations that haven’t previously been free and independent,” he said.

The broadcaster is already training independent journalists in Burma through its Media Action program and remains committed to supporting the private sector,  Horrocks said.

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