Susie Sell
Dec 18, 2012

BBC pay-TV channels set to launch in Myanmar

SINGAPORE - The BBC is set to expand its presence in Myanmar, with the launch three pay-TV channels in the market early next year.

BBC Worldwide and BBC to expand in Myanmar
BBC Worldwide and BBC to expand in Myanmar

The three channels—BBC World News, BBC Entertainment and CBeebies—will launch in the market on 1 January through private broadcaster Forever Group.

The announcement comes as Myanmar pushes through a series of political reforms that will open the country following years of military rule.

Reforms have also taken place to ease restrictions on journalists, allowing for the publication of articles without state approval.

As the country opens, broadcasters and brands have been quick to move into the market. Japan-based NHK World TV moved into the market in August, swiftly followed by Channel News Asia.

The BBC has a long history of providing news and information to Burma, through its BBC World Service. It said the introduction of pay-TV channels and the BBC World Service global English radio, will potentially reach around 250,000 homes in Myanmar.

Peter Horrocks, director, Global News, said the deal is a “great sign of progress”, adding that the BBC will be playing a role in opening the country up to the world.

“For many years, the BBC has delivered accurate, impartial international radio services to the Burmese people, serving as a vital lifeline service to Aung San Suu Kyi and those across the country,” he said. “I’m so pleased that the BBC is now able to take the next step forward with the country to offer that same impartial news via television as well.”

Writing on a BBC blog, Horrocks said while the opening up of Burma to international broadcasters is naturally to be welcomed, there is still a long way to go.

"At this early stage of opening up, it is hard to know if the hopes of media freedom will be fulfilled, but it is at least an encouraging sign that the BBC can now report from and to the country in English," he added.

Winn Maw, CEO of Forever Group, added, “High quality content is a key factor in driving our subscription growth, and we are confident that BBC World News, BBC Entertainment and CBeebies, together with BBC World Service radio will make Forever Group’s international line-up even stronger,”

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