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Radio Broadcasting in Myanmar

by Bob Padula

I recently spent three weeks in South East Asia, as part of an around-the-world trip which took me to Europe and Canada. This account of Myanmar broadcasting may be of interest, based on my "on-the-ground" monitoring from the area!

Myanmar is the new name for the country of Burma and the capital's new name is Yangon (formerly Rangoon). However, these names have not yet been universally accepted. The name was changed because it was believed that the English version of the official name implied "Bama" (Burmese nationals), only one of the country's many ethnic groups.

Map of MyanmarIt should be noted that Myamnar/Burma was separated from India is 1937; in 1942 following British withdrawal it was invaded by the Japanese; in 1945, Britain reoccupied the country; in 1948 it was granted independence from Britain, outside of the Commonwealth. In 1988, the armed forces established a military council and a cabinet, the latter consisting almost entirely of the armed forces.

Topography and languages

Myanmar is situated in south-eastern Asia on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, between the Malay Peninsula and the Tibetan Plateau. It covers an area os some 680,000 sq.km, comprising 14 administrative divisions. It is bordered by India, China, Laos, and Thailand.

The time zone is UTC +6.5 hours, one hour ahead of neighbouring India which is on UTC +5.5 hours, and 30 minutes behind Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia which are on UTC +7 hours.

The official language is Burmese, but some 100 indigenous languages are spoken in the country, most of which, together with Burmese, belong to the Sino-Tibetan family. English is the second language and is taught in kindergartens.

Radio Broadcasting

HF broadcasting from Myanmar is confined to the single Government-controlled station, located at Yangon, the capital, and to the Defence Forces Broadcasting Unit, operated by the military.

Myanmar Radio and TV:

Two HF transmitters are in use, 50 kW each, with the primary service area being Myanmar, operating to this schedule:

Main Network:

*0030-0245* 7185
*0330-0800* 9730
(On Sats, Suns, and holidays, 9730 is used from *0245-0800*)
*0800-1600* 5985 (sign-off time varies each day, and may be anywhere between 1500 and 1600)

Minority Language Network:

*0930-1600* 4725 (sign-off time varies between 1500 and 1600)

The Main Program is essentially in Burmese, with English 0200-0245 on 7185, 0700-0800 on 9730, and 1400-1630 on 5985. The English features are presented by professional announcers trained in the United Kingdom, with annunciation being distinctively "British"!

A recently introduced daily feature in French is noted 1000-1010 on 4725, consisting of news about the India-China region, emphasising political events in Vietnam.

All four HF channels are well-heard across Indo-China, and technical transmission quality is very good.

For at least 40 years, there has been no major increase in HF transmitter capacity. However, there have been some minor frequency adjustments, with 4725 replacing the former 4795 and 5040, 7185 replacing 7125 and 7120, and 9730 replacing 9725 and 6035. The first 50 kW HF installations date back to the 1950's, a period marked by continuing internal upheaval, insurrection, and political instability.

Defence Forces Broadcasting Unit:

This uses the single frequency of 6570 and was noted for evening transmissions in the period 1300-1400. It may operate at other times, but was not heard.

Mediumwave

This is confined to the single channel of 576 kHz, with 200 kW, from Yangon, and is in parallel with 5985 7185 and 9730. This is an unusual frequency choice, as the channel is shared with another high-powered Indo-China station, also with 200 kW, at Vientienne, Laos, and All India Radio, Allapuizha, similarly with 200 kW.

VHF

There is only one known outlet, on 100.4, at Yangon, with 0.5 kW, carrying the same programming as on 576 kHz MW

Note: Myanmar is not currently represented in the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, and consequently does not attend the meetings of the ABU-HFC.

Summary

Radio broadcasting in Myanmar is very modest by world standards, and resources in delivery of the single network are matched to the relatively small demand.

Published on September 12, 2002

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