YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Satellite dishes that allow people to get international news and entertainment programs should be banned in Myanmar because foreign powers are using them to sow unrest and spread immorality, a state-run newspaper said Friday, April 24.
Writing in the Myanma Ahlin newspaper, a writer who identified himself as Ko Gyi said foreign countries were flooding the country with entertainment programs that citizens are enjoying without realizing they have a darker purpose — to destabilize the country and spread immoral behavior.
“Some big nations are using satellite dishes as their own media tools to influence other countries under the pretext of entertainment,” Ko Gyi wrote. “They are using them to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, to instigate unrest, and to destroy nationalism in some targeted nations. It is high time to prohibit the sale of satellite dishes.”
The article did not single out any one country nor any specific programs.
Most middle class homes and shops use satellite dishes to tune into foreign sports events, soap operas, and to circumvent the junta’s tightly controlled state media. The dishes are commonplace in big cities, like the commercial capital of Yangon.
The government occasionally launches crackdowns on the dishes by forcing users to pack them away in boxes until the threat has passes.
Last year, authorities dramatically raised the annual fee for the dishes in an apparent move to limit access to foreign news channels that beamed in global criticism of its 2007 crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The license fee increased from 6,000 kyat ($6) to 1 million kyat ($1,000) — an unaffordable sum to most people in Myanmar. It is equivalent to about three times the annual salary of a public school teacher.
As a result, many have chosen to operate their dishes illegally.
The fee hike may have been a response to the images broadcast into Myanmar of troops beating Buddhist monks during anti-government street demonstrations that were sparked by a spike in fuel prices.
The broadcasts were made by groups including the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based shortwave radio station and Web site that is run by exiled Myanmar dissidents. (end)