Internews is a US based organization that engages in hard work of helping the producers of news and information do their jobs better. Not in the space that LIRNEasia occupies, so our interactions have not been many, but my impression has been of people who are trying to make a difference by working at ground level, quietly. Therefore, I took seriously the op-ed written by its CEO on Myanmar. Here is an excerpt.
For now, the reforms and the apparent end of censorship have unleashed a veritable media gold rush in Myanmar. In the coming months, the government will license the country’s first daily newspapers. Independent television and radio stations will follow. The government needs to ensure that the regulatory process is simple and transparent so that media ownership does not concentrate in the hands of a few crony businessmen.
The price of a mobile phone SIM card has dropped from $3,000 to $200. In a country with fewer cell phones than North Korea, telecom liberalization will lower the cost even further and bring Internet connectivity to the 98 percent without it. A population that has lived with no independent news media of any kind will now have access to information and will have a voice – the foundations of a civil society.