Welcome to this week’s Media Law Roundup, a summary of developing media law and policy news.
Myanmar Media Draft Law Legislation Delayed
Myanmar has suspended a controversial draft of its media law until mid- April. This draft sparked outrage from the media industry for its similarity to the 1962 media law and the Interim Press Council, a government-formed group made up of journalists and government appointees, called for a delay in passing legislation until a new draft could be completed.
Initially, Parliament planned to discuss the bill this week; however, it is now off the agenda.
General Secretary of the Interim Press Council Kyaw Min Swe announced that the Council plans to finalize a new and separate draft of the press law by March 24th.
End to Google Reader
Google’s announcement that as of July 1st the Reader service will be discontinued sparked frustration among users internationally. Google Reader, which aggregates RSS feeds, is a popular mechanism used to access blocked content by individuals in countries with filtered Internet as it is difficult for a government to block Google Reader without blocking all of Google’s popular products.
A Change.org petition protesting Google’s decision included signatories from Kazahkstan, Belarus, Iran and China. Many commenters argued that without Reader it will become more difficult to access blocked news content. However, it still appears unlikely that Google will reverse its decision.
Australia Media Law Changes Blocked
Australia’s parliament refused to pass four of six proposed media law bills that were largely critiqued by individuals in the news industry as infringing on freedom of speech. Representatives from various news organizations spoke out against the reforms at the Senate committee hearing, calling the reforms “a direct assault on the independent operation of Australian journalism” and “draconian.”
Certain elements of proposed legislation did pass, such as license fee rebates for Australia’s commercial TV broadcasters in exchange for greater local content requirements. However, the more controversial elements, which featured the creation of a new media regulator, were blocked.
The reforms were proposed in response to an inquiry into news media practices announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2011. The controversy surrounding the proposed media bills have led to challenges to Gillard’s leadership from outside and within her own party.