BBC launches tv channels in Burma

Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks: 'a great sign of progress for Burma'

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Three BBC pay tv channels will be launched in Burma on New Year's Day.

BBC World News, BBC Entertainment and CBeebies will go out on Forever Group's pay tv platform, bringing them to a potential 250,000 homes in the country.

World Service in Asia in English will also be broadcast via the digital platform.

The development comes at a time when Burma is easing its restrictions on the media after several decades of government control and censorship.

Peter Horrocks, director of global news, said it was 'a great sign of progress for Burma'.

'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.'

In an editor's blog posting, he said that journalists, editors and even officials from former censors, the Ministry of Information, were keen to attend BBC training courses to learn about open and balanced reporting.

Start Quote

We urge the country to fully open its airwaves”

End Quote Peter Horrocks Director of Global News

But he insisted that there was still 'a long way to go'.

He pointed to the BBC Burmese service, first broadcast in 1940, which cannot be broadcast within Burma. It is transmitted only on shortwave to an estimated audience of around eight million a week.

For many, including Aung San Suu Kyi - the Burmese opposition politician who listened while she was detained under house arrest for 15 years - it has been a vital source of impartial news about the country.

'We urge the government to fully open its airwaves,' said Horrocks.

He added that the BBC would continue to 'scrutinise the country closely' - something that would be a key part of the role of BBC journalists as they moved more freely around the country.

'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.'

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