Media Law

Union Parliament Law Number 12 of 2014

March 14, 2014

The Union Parliament hereby enacts this Law.

Chapter 1.           Title and Definitions

  1. This Law shall be known as the Media Law.
  2. The expressions contained in this Law shall have the meanings as given hereunder:

a.         “Media” means activities related to public communication such as gathering, acquiring, possession, recording, analysis and distribution of news in textual, audio, visual, audio-visual, digital data [and] graphics forms by means of print, broadcast or internet or other methods.

b.         “Media-person” means a person who is engaged in any enterprise related to media.

c.         “Council” means the Union of Myanmar Press Council formed in accordance with this Law.

d.         “Dissemination” means communicating to the public by audio, visual or textual means.

e.         “Newspaper” means a publication that regularly distributes news and articles concerning daily domestic and foreign events.

f.          “Journalist” means a person who gathers information and sends [the information] to any media.

g.         “Publication” means periodic or non-periodic media enterprise of issuing news, fiction, articles, poems, cartoons, images, photographs, illustration and so on in the form of books, periodicals, newspaper, journal, magazine, by means of audio-visual broadcasting or internet technology.

h.         “News-Agency” means an enterprise, corporation, company or entity that gathers domestic and/or foreign news and distributes them through any means, to media [organizations], with or without monetary consideration.

  1. “Censorship” means cutting, removal, banning/prohibition of contents of any publication prior to printing.

j.          “Ministry” means the Union Government Ministry of Information.

Chapter 2.           Objectives

  1. The objectives of this Law are as follows:

a.         To cause the coming into existence of media enterprises with each citizen having rights to freely write and publish in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution;

b.         To enable the standing of media as the fourth pillar/estate;

c.         To cause receiving of full rights and freedoms of media-persons;

d.         To formulate within relevant enterprises and organizations, the duties, codes of conduct, bylaws and practices to be followed by media-persons;

e.         To fulfil the right to information of each citizen;

f.          To resolve and settle complaints and disputes of any person in respect of any publication in any media through mutual negotiation.

Chapter 3.           Rights of Media-persons

  1. Media-persons:
    1. have the right in accordance with the Constitution to write reviews, criticisms and suggestions in respect of the operation of those related to legislative, executive and judiciary.
    2. have the right in accordance with codes of conduct and bylaws to investigate, expose and publish information and viewpoints of public interest;
    3. have the right to expose matters related to loss of rights of citizens;
    4. have the right of access to and provision of accommodation by and obtaining of information at government offices, departments and organizations in accordance with the bylaws prescribed by the relevant department or organization.
  2. Publications by media have the right to be free from censorship.
  3. A media-person:
    1. is entitled to request to view information of public interest, except in the case of lists/schedules/accounts, photographs and records prescribed with security grades through order or directive of any law or authority.
    2. is entitled to request to view information from publicly funded non-governmental organizations, associations and enterprises, in accordance with provisions of sub-section (a).
  4. While a media-person is gathering news in zones of armed hostilities, conflict, riots or public demonstrations, in compliance with bylaws prescribed by the competent organization:
    1. he shall be exempt from detention, confiscation and destruction of news gathering tools such as records of news by any security organization.
    2. he shall be entitled to request the protection of organizations related to security, if there are any.
  5. A media-person:
    1. shall, in gathering of news, reveal his name in accordance with code of conduct. However, in case of news which are crucial to be investigated in order to expose mismanagement or corruption in respect of public health, public safety, environmental damage, legislative, executive, judicial, and socio-economic activities of public concern, he shall have the right, as prescribed and with the approval of the relevant editor, to conduct investigations without revealing his name, and shall state that investigations were carried out in such manner.
    2. shall be exempt from confiscation, placing under seal or destruction of work-related materials/equipment without a court order in a case of [legal] action under any provision of this Law.

Chapter 4.           Duties and Codes of Conduct of Media-Persons

  1. A media-person has the duty to abide by the following codes of conduct:
    1. to check every news item as much as possible for accuracy and completeness;
    2. to publish most speedily the required correction on a prominent page in case of print, and at the nearest time[-slot] in case of other media, when inaccurate news had been published;
    3. in reporting of court proceedings, to consider the accused as innocent until a guilty verdict has been passed by the court, and to refrain from news analysis that amounts to contempt of court;
    4. to refrain from improper alterations by any technical means of news photographs and audio-visuals;
    5. to avoid publishing any assumption or opinion of the news writer, except in the case of news analysis, editorials or articles;
    6. to refrain from plagiarizing the intellectual property of others;
    7. to refrain from writing which wilfully damages the reputation of another individual or entity and writing which infringes human rights, except in public interest;
    8. to refrain from inflammatory writing that may cause conflict on grounds of place of birth, religious faith or race;
    9. to abide by the bylaws and code of conduct issued by the Union of Myanmar Press Council.

Chapter 5.           Establishment of Media Enterprise

  1. A person who wishes to engage in a media enterprise may proceed in any of the following methods:
    1. incorporation under prevailing Myanmar Companies Act as a private company or a public company or a joint venture company;
    2. incorporation under the prevailing Myanmar Citizen Investment Law or Foreign Investment Law.
  2. A person who wishes to engage in media enterprise shall procure a certificate of recognition or business license, depending on the type of enterprise.

Chapter 6.           Formation and Functions of the Council

  1. The Council is the sole organization which may independently carry out matters related to media people in accordance with the provisions of the Law.
  2. In order to carry out the objectives and functions of this Law, the Union President shall by notificationform the Union of Myanmar Press Council comprised of individuals from the following organizations:
    1. One Council-Member each designated by the Union President, the Speaker of the People’s Parliament and the Speaker of the National Parliament;
    2. Representatives proposed by media-persons, news-agencies, publishers, authors, poets and cartoonists, according to prescribed ratios;
    3. Representatives selected by civil societies comprised of scholars and professionals insociology, economics, literature, culture, law, science and technology, according to prescribed ratios;
    4. The number of Council Members shall be stipulated to range from a minimum of fifteen to a maximum of thirty.
  3. -
    1. The Council-Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons, Secretary and Joint-Secretaries shall be elected by majority vote from among Council-Members.
    2. List of Council-Members elected under sub-section (a) shall be submitted to the Union President for appointment.
  4. -
    1. One term of office of a Council-Member is three years from the date of his election.
    2. No Council-Member shall be permitted to serve more than two consecutive terms.
  5. A Council-Member ceases to be a Council-Member under any of the following circumstances:
    1. Voluntary resignation;
    2. Removal from office by the Union President on recommendation of two-thirds of Council-Members on grounds of wilful violation of duties and code of conduct of media-persons, or inability to properly discharge the functions of a Council-Member, or unsuitability for further occupation of office due to wilful breach of the bylaws prescribed by the Council;
    3. Being convicted in a crime of moral turpitude;
    4. Insanity or death.
  6. The functions of the Council are as follows:
    1. Monitoring and raising quality of media;
    2. Coordination with relevant government departments to facilitate the import of materials/equipment utilized in the media industry;
    3. Arrangement of workshops and seminars related to media;
    4. Coordination with publishing entities to award outstanding media-persons;
    5. Formulation and implementation of projects for development of the media industry;
    6. Publishing of news whenever needed;
    7. Coordination with government departments, government organizations and civil societies for each to designate an authorized spokesperson to serve the right to truthful information of the public;
    8. Reporting annually without fail to the Union President the progress of operations and future plans.
  7. In the performance of its functions, the Council may form and assign duties to committees as needed.

Chapter 7.           Funds and Grants

  1. In order to discharge its functions, the Council shall establish a fund with the following income:
    1. Grants from the Union Government Cabinet;
    2. Aid from domestic and foreign donors;
    3. Assistance from international organizations, and non-governmental organizations;
    4. Contributions from media enterprises.
  2. The Council shall maintain and compile accounts of the funds, and submit to audit from the Office of the Union Auditor General, formulate procedures of financial accounting and expenditure.

Chapter 8.           Taking Action

  1. An aggrieved individual, department or organization which feels that a media-person has violated any duty or code of conduct provided in Section (9) may first of all make a complaint to the Council.
  2. Upon receiving a complaint under Section (21), the Council shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of rules and procedures related to resolution through meeting and negotiation.
  3. If no resolution is achieved through negotiation under Section(22) in the presence of the Council, the complainant/aggrieved person may resort to legal action in a competent court.
  4. In respect of request under Section (6) sub-section (a) to view information of public interest, the relevant person in-charge shall make arrangements in order to prevent refusals, delays or hindrance of the requester of information.

Chapter 9.           Offenses and penalties

  1. -
    1. Any media-person convicted for violation of duty or code of conduct under Section (9) sub-section (b) shall be penalized with a fine of minimum Kyats one hundred thousand to maximum Kyats three hundred thousand.
    2. Any media-person convicted for violation of any duty or code of conduct under Section (9) sub-section (d), sub-section (f) or sub-section (g) shall be penalized with a fine of minimum Kyats three hundred thousand to maximum Kyats one million.
  2. Any media-person convicted for violation prohibition under Section (9) sub-section (h) shall be prosecuted under any prevailing law.


Chapter 10.       Miscellaneous

  1. Council-Members in the performance of their duties under this Law shall be deemed as public service personnel under Section (21) of the Penal Code.
  2. For the performance of its day-to-day office functions, the Council may establish anoffice function, appoint needed officers and staff, and assign their duties.
  3. Search and seizure of media materials such as newspapers, journals and periodicals which have been legally banned/prohibited, and subject to prosecution under the Penal Code, shall be carried out in accordance with the Penal Procedure Code.
  4. If there are charges to be brought under Section (25):
    1. they may be brought directly to a court by any authorized person of the relevant government department or government organization.
    2. In case of aperson, it may bring the charges directly to a court.
  5. -
    1. A media enterprise established before the coming into force of this Law may continue to operate to the end of its prescribed term.
    2. If desirous of continuing in the enterprise, [it] may do so by extension of term in accordance with prescribed methods.
  6. Orders, directives, letters and announcements issued under the 1962 Law concerning Registration of Printers and Publishers to restrict freedom of expression shall be deemed as void so far as they are contrary to the provisions of this Law.

  1. In the implementing the provisions of this Law:
    1. The Ministry may, in coordination with the Council and with the approval of the Union Government Cabinet, issue rules, regulations and bylaws as needed.
    2. The Ministry and the Council may issue notifications, orders, directives and procedures as needed.

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Signed by me under the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

 

                                                                                                                                                            By     

                                                                                                                                                      Thein Sein

                                                                                                                                                      Union President

                                                                                                                                                     Republic of the Union of Myanmar

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