Voice of America, 4 June 2012
: "VOA Director David Ensor is in Burma seeking to negotiate terms that would allow the U.S. broadcaster to open a news bureau in the long-isolated southeast Asian nation. Ensor held introductory talks Monday in the Burmese administrative capital, Naypyitaw, with Parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann. '[The speaker] seemed very open and interested in some advice on how best to proceed to bring greater democracy to Burma,' said Ensor. 'So it was a good meeting, and we are interested in [VOA's Burmese language] service having more ability to report directly on the ground here in the country.'"
Voice of America press release, 5 June 2012: "Voice of America English teaching programs will soon air on Burmese state radio under the terms of a breakthrough agreement reached Tuesday in the capital, Naypyitaw. VOA Director David Ensor, who signed the agreement with Thein Aung, Director General of Myanmar State Radio and Television, said the decision by Burma’s long-isolated government is 'a small step, but one that is symbolically important.' Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ensor predicted that 'many Burmese will enjoy learning English through VOA programs, and we hope this will lead to bigger things in the future.'"
The Irrawaddy, 7 June 2012, Yan Naing Hein: "Broadcast media like VOA as well as Burmese media groups in exile will be allowed to open Burmese bureaus after a new media law is approved next month, said Information Minister Kyaw Hsan when he met David Ensor, the director of the VOA (Burmese service). Kyaw Hsan emphasized that opening offices will not be possible immediately because the media law has yet to be approved, but it should be enacted by July or August at the latest, Ensor told a VOA broadcast on Wednesday. The Ministry of Information and VOA signed an agreement so that journalists working for VOA would be allowed multi-entry visas to come and go from Burma with ease. ... The ministry also agreed to rebroadcast some VOA Burmese-language programs through the state-owned Myanmar Radio and Television, better known as MRTV, reported the VOA. Kyaw Hsan and Ensor signed a memorandum of understanding for VOA to provide assistance including modern equipment and training for MRTV employees to improve their technical skills, Xinhua news agency reported."
Mizzima, 8 June 2012: "With the increased opening of the media sector in Burma, a number of foreign media such as DVB, CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera TV are seeking to enter the local TV market competitively."
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 7 June 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is moving to take full advantage of the recent liberalization of press restrictions in Burma. At its regular monthly meeting, the board approved a resolution offered by Gov. Michael Meehan that seeks new coordination among the BBG, the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) to build on recent breakthroughs to raise the profile of U.S. international broadcasting in the South Asian nation. VOA Director David Ensor recently signed an agreement that would bring VOA English teaching programs to Burmese state radio. In addition, journalists from both VOA and RFA have been given enhanced access to Burma in recent months. Under the resolution, the BBG, VOA and RFA would communicate with the Department of State and the Congress on its plans, including the possibility of establishing offices in Burma."
So why the sudden desire on the part of the BBG for more cooperation between nemeses VOA and RFA? During the VOA portion of the meeting, BBG member Dennis Mulhaupt, presiding in Prague, recognized Michael Meehan by saying "Governor Meehan has a motion he wants to offer, I believe, on the subject you raised." It's unclear who "you" is, perhaps Meehan, and the subject must have been raised before the public BBG meeting. In Meehan's motion, "the Board directs the Voice of America director and the Radio Free Asia president ... to work with the IBB director to coordinate the activities in and for Burma, including in-country bureaus, sharing of stringer networks, and where appropriate, sharing of content."
Later in the meeting, during discussion of a motion requiring non-disclosure of "deliberative" board matters, BBG member Vistor Ashe said to Meehan, "just as you became upset, and rightly so, about Mr. Ensor announcing an office in Burma without Board's approval... ." (Apparently Ashe sneaked in one more disclosure of a deliberative matter before the motion was passed.)
It is not certain that the government of Burma will be as willing to host the content and offices of RFA as it would be for VOA. Will the BBG require that RFA be included in such agreements with VOA? Would such a stipulation cause Burma to terminate these agreements?
And that's the news from The Broadcasting Board of Governors, where all the entities are above average.
BBG Strategy, 11 June 2012, Doug Boynton, BBG Office of Strategy and Development: "My background is in private sector sales, and experience tells me that the best time for a foot in the door at any organization is when management changes. When the first breeze blew last December, VOA’s Service Chief, Than Lwin Thun, made his first visit to his homeland in more than 20 years to attend a media conference. Afterward, he was asked to stay behind a day, and met with Information Minister, former General Kyaw Hsan. The two men talked reform, and eventually, about the possibility of VOA’s programs appearing on the state’s nationwide radio and television networks. Two trips to the remote capital of Naypyitaw, and more discussion about programs from both VOA and Radio Free Asia have yielded an agreement to place VOA’s 'Learning English' programs on the state radio network. Voice of America Director David Ensor signed the agreement with the Director General of Myanma Radio-Television, U Thein Aung, last week. By one measure, it’s modest – a short program to teach English three times weekly. But when one looks at how far we’ve come, it’s huge."