Myanmar to allow daily newspapers from April

Myanmar will allow private newspapers to publish daily from April 1, ending a decades-old ban in a further easing of the country's draconian censorship regime, the government said Friday.

Currently state-owned newspapers are the only dailies allowed, prompting many private companies to provide news via the Internet for a population hungry for information after years of restrictions.

The issuing of the new daily licences -- announced on the information ministry's website -- will come two years after the launch of a new reformist government, with private newspapers expected to hit the stands soon after.

Several weekly newspapers are hurriedly getting ready for the changes, which were floated in September, as Myanmar's reformist government widens its reform drive.

"We are ready to rock," said Nyein Nyein Naing, executive editor of weekly paper 7Days News.

"This is a milestone for our industry and for our country and people as well."

But he warned of a "really challenging" timetable for turning newsrooms from weekly to daily operations.

Kyaw Min Swe, chief editor of the Voice Weekly, said he has also been preparing journalists for the rigours of daily output.

"I think at least five weekly newspapers are ready to go daily," he said, adding that the biggest challenge was the distribution.

Since taking office last year, President Thein Sein has overseen a number of dramatic reforms such as the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

In August, Myanmar announced the end of pre-publication censorship which was previously applied to everything from newspapers to song lyrics and even fairy tales.

Reporters jailed under the junta have also been freed and a lighter touch from censors has already seen private weekly journals publish an increasingly bold array of subjects, while state dailies now report the latest Hollywood gossip.

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