The United Kingdom had a colonial presence in the Asian nation of Myanmar (then known as British Burma and then Burma before its current guise) as recently as 1948, though years of military rule in the country saw the territory sever many ties with the rest of the world, though it was still naturally a part of the international community. However, under a reform that saw democracy arrive in 2010, countries that were previously disillusioned with the regime are now re-opening formal relations, perhaps most notably culminating in popular American soft drink brand Coca-Cola being sold in Myanmar for the first time in over 60 years in June.
Another such move appears to be the UK making a planned presence in Myanmar’s broadcasting market, as the BBC plans to offer series such as Doctor Who, The Graham Norton Show, In the Night Garden, and Teletubbies in the country as a pay-TV option.
While the BBC has had a presence on the radio in the 60m-strong country for a long time, they are now planning to add 3 commercial pay-TV channels to their presence in southeast Asia, provided through the commercial arm BBC Worldwide.
The line-up will include general entertainment network BBC Entertainment, a version of children’s station CBeebies, and 24-hour coverage of BBC World News.
BBC ‘director of global news’ Peter Horrocks said of the development: “For many years, the BBC has delivered accurate, impartial international radio services to the Burmese people, serving as a vital lifeline service to Aung San Suu Kyi and those across the country. I’m so pleased that the BBC is now able to take the next step forward with the country to offer that same impartial news via television as well. It is a great sign of progress for Burma [Myanmar] and I’m honoured for the BBC to play a role in opening the country up to the world.”
All three TV channels are now set to launch alongside already-present English-language radio station BBC World Service (in Asia) through pay-TV provider Forever Group, becoming available as of 1 January. Key Myanma democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi previously claimed to be a big fan of the BBC World Service radio broadcasts during her house arrest, but will she and her compatriots be quick to take up the offer of the BBC’s TV content? If TV presenter Graham Norton is amongst the ‘star entertainment’ being displayed…