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BBC Burma pulls Myanmar TV deal over Rohingya ‘censorship’

"The BBC cannot accept interference or censorship of BBC programs by joint-venture TV broadcasters as that violates the trust between the BBC and its audience," a report the BBC's Burmese website said.

By: AFP | Yangon | Published: September 4, 2017 4:38 pm
Rohingya censorship, Rohingya muslims, BBC Burma, Myanmar TV, muslim rohingya minority, indian express, world news The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar’s western Rakhine who face severe state-sanctioned persecution and have fled in droves in recent years. (Reuters photo)

The BBC’s Burmese language service on Monday said it was pulling a broadcasting deal with a popular Myanmar television channel citing “censorship”, with insiders saying the partners had clashed over coverage of the Muslim Rohingya minority. The announcement is the latest blow to struggling press freedoms in the country and a remarkable turnaround for a news organisation that famously kept Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi up to date during her long years of house arrest under junta rule.

Since April 2014, BBC Burmese broadcast a daily news programme on MNTV with 3.7 million daily viewers. The BBC said it was ending the deal after MNTV censored or pulled multiple programmes since March this year. “The BBC cannot accept interference or censorship of BBC programs by joint-venture TV broadcasters as that violates the trust between the BBC and its audience,” a report the BBC’s Burmese website said.

The BBC statement did not detail what content was censored and MNTV did not respond to requests for comment. But an official at the local channel said they objected to the BBC’s use of the word “Rohingya” in their reports. “That’s why we cannot broadcast their service,” the employee said, asking not to be named.

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar’s western Rakhine who face severe state-sanctioned persecution and have fled in droves in recent years. Most international media call them Rohingya because the community has long self-identified that way. But Myanmar’s government — and most local media call them Bengalis, portraying them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite many living in the country for generations.

Hopes had been high that the new government of democracy icon Suu Kyi would usher in an era of free speech when they took power last year after half a century of military rule.

Suu Kyi was confined for years to a lakeside Yangon house under the junta but used to listen to the World Service and its Burmese language offshoot on her radio.

Yet since coming to power in landslide elections, her civilian-led government has frequently clashed with the media over their coverage. Defamation prosecutions have also soared, increasingly targeting social media satirists, activists and journalists.

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  1. R
    Rushil
    Sep 4, 2017 at 5:30 pm
    While the incident is unfortunate, India should be careful about not having another refugee crisis. We cannot take care of our own poor and now the Rohingyas are entering and forming illegal settlements. When developed countries like US and EU don't want to take in refugees, then why should we ? First the developed nations don't care about refugees, then they make fun of India for being poverty-ridden, and then expect us to take care of them without providing any help.
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    1. P
      Patriot!!
      Sep 4, 2017 at 5:12 pm
      Why India is not taking any stand on this Humanitarian crisis in the neighbourhood. If we really want to become a Great Nation again then we should think beyond religion of people in need of humanitarian help.
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      Adda