State controls on the television broadcasting sector remain in place, however there have been some positive developments: Syndicated DVB content has appeared on television in-country for several years now. Their debate show has provided a platform for views that would previously not have been given airtime. In August 2015, the Thein Sein government enacted the Broadcasting Law. Change did not follow immediately, as there were no by-laws in place to allow implementation of the new policy. After putting out a call to tender on private TV broadcasting licences in 2016, 29 proposals were put forward. Five companies were awarded TV licences in 2017, including former exile organisations DVB and Mizzima, as well as the privately-held Fortune International, Kaung Myanmar Aung, and Young Investment Group. All five selected companies had to pledge to follow MRTV’s rules and regulations, as well as editorial policy — however, it is not yet clear the extent to which this will impact their programming, and how they will respond if their content is flagged for censorship.
Television in Myanmar is a growing market and the ratings system employed at present is a primitive diary-based one. A partnership between US-based Nielsen and Myanmar Marketing Research and Development provides the most comprehensive data on the industry. In 2016, the TV advertising industry was estimated at being worth some US$135m, representing around 75 percent of the country’s total advertising spend, according to MMRD figures.
Because of the relatively high costs of subscription television services, many viewers in Myanmar install illegal satellite dishes. Prime-time advertising rates in broadcast media can reach up to US$1,000 per second.
The IRI survey found 23 percent of respondents watched television for news, and 42 percent watched TV or listened to the radio every day. There are plans underway for the country to make the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting. The first phase was introduced in late 2013 in the major cities. The Ministry of Information has indicated a belief that the transition to digital should be complete by 2020; however it is not yet clear if that deadline will be met.