A City FM staff member
rehearses for a new program in Yangon last week. The reach
of the popular station extends to most townships in the
city. Pic: Hein Latt Aung
AFTER a hard day at work many Myanmar people go home to relax
with their families and watch television, with the range of Korean
soap operas particularly popular with audiences.
Myanmar is loaded with potential viewing choices – there
are three free-to-air channels and two easily accessed satellite
Unfortunately, with so many choices people often argue and fight
over what to watch – leading some families to invest in
a second television.
“With more programs available on the television channels,
Myanmar’s viewers now have more options than before. So
the impact of increased competition from satellite providers has
had little effect on most people,” said a spokesperson from
Myanmar Marketing Research & Development Company (MMRD).
The three free television channels in Myanmar are MRTV, Myawady
Television and MRTV-3.
According to MMRD, 70 percent of viewers watch the MRTV and
The most popular shows in Myanmar are Korean soap operas like
“Melody of a River” and a range of reality television
programs where people compete to win singing and acting contests.
“I always watch the acting contest on MRTV at 5:30pm and
the Korean drama on Myawady television at 7pm but I don’t
really have a favourite channel,” said Ma Thandar Hlaing,
a final-year English major student at Dagon University.
U Ye Tun, assistant director of MRTV-3, explained the aims of
the television stations in Myanmar.
“MRTV, MRTV-3 and MRTV-4 undertake three main duties –
to inform, to educate and to entertain the public and broadcast
healthy programs,” said U Ye Tun, assistant director of
MRTV was established in 1981 and was Myanmar’s first channel.
“It has raised public awareness about social responsibility
and government policy since 1981,” said one avid watcher,
U Htin Aung Thwin.
In addition to Korean dramas, MRTV also broadcasts a number
of programs showing Myanmar cultural performances as well as education
programs and other entertainment shows.
The role of radio in Myanmar society is also strong and Myanmar
radio continues to stream the latest news and entertainment to
listeners all over the country.
“It provides Myanmar people with useful information every
day. And it educated people for many years before television programs
started being broadcast,” said U Khin Maung Aye, a teacher
from No(1) Basic Education High School in Hlaing township.
But according to MMRD’s spokesperson, Myanmar’s
people are losing interest in the radio as more people switch
over to television’s warm fuzzy glow.
Another channel is the military-run Myawady Television, that started
in 1995 and provides a twice daily news bulletin; it is also the
main provider of Korean soap operas to the waiting public.
“I get the most satisfaction from Myawady because it has
extended it’s broadcasting hours by showing more Korean
shows and Myanmar movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons,”
said Ma Khin Thazin, a student from No(4) Basic Education High
School in Botahtaung township.
MRTV-3 joined the mix in mid 2001 and gives priority to providing
national news for a world audience.
“The objective of MRTV-3 is to present a genuine and correct
image of Myanmar to its target audience in foreign lands,”
said U Ye Tun, assistant director of MRTV-3.
The channel also presents a range of programs on culture, tourism,
arts, business and sports.
And then there is MRTV-4, a channel jointly operated by MRTV
and the Forever Group. It started broadcasting in 2004 and airs
programs between 7am and 11pm.
Unfortunately, MRTV-4 can only be viewed by people with MMBox
satellite receivers, which are also equipped with a hard drive
to record video.
U Myint Aung, deputy director of MRTV-4, said viewers could access
the satellite network through the digital video broadcasting –
terrestrial (DVB-T) receiver, which they call the “Family
“We plan to extend this service to other parts of the
country and also lengthen the duration of its programs,”
Viewers who use the Family Receiver and pay the annual fee can
also watch the MRTV-5 pay-tv channels, including 5 Movies, 5 Sports,
5 Cartoons, 5 Series, CNN and the Discovery Channel, which are
jointly-operated by MRTV.
“The audiences for MRTV-3 and MRTV-4 are smaller than the
other channels because they don’t have as much airtime.
And MRTV-4 can really only be seen in and around Yangon, not elsewhere
in the country,” he said.
The Yangon City Development Committee opened another radio station
– City FM – in 2002 to cater for young people between
the ages of 18 and 24-years-old.
Programs and the music on City FM are constantly being updated
to keep the content fresh. The reach of City FM extends to most
townships in Yangon and the station is popular with many listeners.
“I like listening to City FM because it has programs like
Star on Line, where audiences can chat with their favourite celebrities,”
said third-year physics student Ma Zun Pwint.