RANGOON – On Monday, Burmese readers had a choice of daily newspapers for the first time in 50 years, as a state monopoly on newspapers ended.
Sixteen publishing licenses were granted by Burmese authorities, but only four privately owned newspapers managed to hit the stands today, reports Reuters. The other newspapers failed to appear due to financing problems, outdated printing equipment and a dearth of journalists.
“All four newspapers sold out quickly today,” Kyi Kyi, a roadside vendor told Reuters. The new Burmese dailies are called Union Daily, Voice Daily, Golden Fresh Land and The Standard Time Daily.
For many in Burma, the Asian nation whose military leaders renamed Myanmar, daily newspapers are a novelty, reports the AP: entire generations weren’t born when the late dictator Ne Win imposed a state monopoly on the press in the 1960s.
The chief editor of Golden Fresh Land, Khin Maung Lay, 81, told the AP he had been “waiting half a century for this day.” His paper’s initial print run of 80,000 copies was sold out before lunch.
“I foresee several hurdles along the way,” said Khin. “However, I am ready to run the paper in the spirit of freedom and professionalism taught by my peers during the good old days.”
Among the hurdles, the 1962 Printing and Registration act, that allows the government to revoke publishing licenses at any time.