January 24th, 2011

MYANMAR/BURMA — The Democratic Voice of Burma reports that the Irrawaddy Magazine has ceased publishing its print edition and the Irrawaddy Magazine reports that the Democratic Voice of Burma has cut back on its radio and television programs and laid-off employees. In both cases, budget cuts forced by less support from donors are at the center of the both organizations austerity.

Despite headlines to the contrary, neither vital organization is going away.

From the DVB:

Major funding cuts of some $US 300,000 a year have forced leading exiled Burmese news organisation, The Irrawaddy, to cease printing its influential magazine.

The magazine’s informative news and analysis of political and humanitarian affairs was often critical of the Burmese regime, and thus like other independent Burmese media outlets, was banned inside Burma.

Although it was able to generate between six and eight percent of its revenue from subscriptions and commercial funding, editor-in-chief Aung Zaw tells DVB however that the problems were both economic and political.

The main donor agency to cease funding was Denmark’s Danida. Some saw their cessation of funding as policy-driven, in that The Irrawaddy was viewed by some as too belligerent towards the ruling military and the elections in November last year.

And from The Irrawaddy:

A reduction in funding for 2011 has forced the Oslo-based Burmese news agency, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), to cut some of its TV and radio programs, and lay off employees.

Aye Chan Naing, the executive director of the DVB, told The Irrawaddy that the exile news agency’s TV entertainment program and its daily morning radio program will be canceled in late February. It will also have to lay out some employees, he added.

“It is impossible to maintain our daily operations on a reduced budget,” he said, adding that it will also reduce staff in Oslo.

DVB was founded in 1992 and has been funded by several international donors, particularly the Norwegian government.

Aye Chan Naing said the DVB had lost 15 percent of its annual budget—down from 23 million Norwegian Krone (US $4 million) to about 20 million Krone.

The DVB, however, will keep running its evening radio broadcast in Burmese language, its 24-hour TV broadcast and its website, said Aye Chan Naing.

“The radio program is essential because people in rural areas of Burma rely on it. It is easy to use and cheaper for them,” he said.

“As we need to rely on donors, we will always face some kind of funding problem. However, we will strive to keep up our output,” he said.

I’m currently working on a piece that asks the question: What does journalism cost?

What do you think?

Do what you can to make this a good morning, Myanmar.

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