Myanmar orders massive hike in satellite TV fees
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Authorities in Myanmar have ordered a massive hike in the fee for satellite TV licences, an official said today, in what residents said appeared to be an attempt to limit access to foreign media. A Myanmar Post Office official, who could not be named, said that renewing an existing licence for a satellite dish now cost one million kyat ($800), a staggering rise on last year’s fee of 6,000 kyat ($4.80).

“This annual fee started from this year, 2008. We don’t know the reason,” the official told AFP, adding that people applying for a new licence will have to fork out two million kyat.

Satellite television allows people in military-ruled Myanmar, where media is tightly controlled, to watch the BBC and the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), and listen to Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA). Outlets such as DVB were one of the key sources of pictures and news during mass protests in September last year, and the junta regularly denounces the BBC, VOA and RFA in state media as “liars attempting to destroy (the) nation.”

Official media made no mention of the licence fee rise, leaving people to find out about the 167-fold increase when they went to renew their licences.

“Our government, they don’t want the people to see the DVB and also other dissident and outside media,” said one Yangon resident in his 40s. Another resident said she was worried that having a satellite dish would attract the attention of the authorities. ”We will not install this satellite dish anymore, as we can’t afford the annual fee and if they find out we have satellite we will also be in trouble,” she said.

(Source: AFP)