Sweden-funded Myanmar media capacity building programme starts

The U.S-based Media Development Investment Fund on 10 December announced the launch of a $2.4 million capacity building program for media in Myanmar funded by Sweden.

The program will provide tailored capacity building support to a select group of independent media companies to help them develop the media management skills necessary to establish financially sustainable quality news businesses.

harlan-mdif“This is an exciting yet also challenging time in Myanmar, not least for the media,” said MDIF CEO Harlan Mandel. “Our program will help key independent news outlets respond more effectively to the rapidly evolving political – and media – landscape.”

Over the three-year program MDIF will work with around a dozen companies, all selected for their independence, potential impact and likelihood of long-term survival. Three or four will be ethnic media and 2 – 4 are expected to become eligible for MDIF’s regular loan or equity financing over the course of the program. Participating media will be a mix of print, broadcast and digital, with local, national and international reach.

“Robust, viable independent media outlets are essential if Myanmar is to build on last month’s election,” said MDIF Asia Director Tessa Piper, who will be overseeing the program. “They must be strong enough to hold politicians to account and provide a voice for the people. Our coaching program will draw primarily on media professionals from around the region who can share relevant experience and practical know-how with their Myanmar counterparts. And in that way help them build financially stable media businesses.”

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“Freedom of expression and the enabling environment for free, independent media are priorities in Swedish development cooperation with Myanmar” said David Holmertz, Counsellor at the Embassy of Sweden Section Office in Myanmar.

“For domestic media to effectively promote democracy, human rights and development, they need to be sustainable without undue dependence on forms of funding that may risk compromising their editorial independence.”

MDIF is a not-for-profit investment fund providing financing and technical assistance to independent media businesses in countries where access to free and independent information is under threat. MDIF invests in media that provide the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies.

MDIF has provided affordable financing and management advice and assistance to more than 100 independent news and information businesses over 20 years. Since 1995, MDIF has invested more than $133 million in 38 countries and, with a current portfolio of $41 million, has returned more than $31 million to investors.

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