MDIF is implementing a unique media development program for independent media institutions in Myanmar. The first phase of the program ran from November 2015-June 2019. The current phase runs from July 2019 to December 2022.
Myanmar media program
What is MMP?
The Myanmar Media Program is an initiative designed to increase the prospects for the sustainability of the media sector in the country by improving the business and management capacity of independent media.
It is supporting a dozen independent media organizations – a mix of national and local news outlets of different sizes and media types – with intensive mentoring and various forms of tailored technical assistance aimed at improving their business and management capacity. An additional two dozen media have access to a less intensive capacity building program designed to fit their specific needs.
Our coaches and other specialist technical assistance providers are almost all senior Southeast Asian media executives. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the program is practical in approach, designed to provide participants with the tools and skills to implement strategies and plans for growth.
The current program builds and expands upon on our experience of running the first phase of this Sida-funded Myanmar media initiative that benefited 12 media organizations with intensive, tailored technical assistance.
MMP identifies senior media executives from the region to work as coaches with the top management of selected media. Together, they discuss company strategy and design capacity-building plans tailored to the media's individual needs. Coaches make quarterly in-house visits to discuss implementation and assess impact based on mutually agreed targets for audience and revenue growth.
Specialist technical assistance
MMP matches media partners with South East Asian experts who provide short-term specialist technical assistance to address particular needs, such as website redesign, social media traffic growth, sales training, digital TV consultancies, and in-house financial management training. MMP is also facilitating the establishment of a company that will fulfill the digital service needs of its media partners at an affordable price, as well as creating a sales network for media to increase their access to Yangon-based advertisers and advertising networks.
MMP conducts workshops that are open to all MMP participants, addressing topics that include sales and marketing, digital strategies, business planning, and financial management.
Recognizing the value of sharing best practices among like-minded media, MMP facilitates exchanges of ideas and information through visits to counterpart media within Myanmar. It also organizes study tours to media companies in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and India, as well as supporting participation at relevant regional and international conferences. This includes supporting media partner participation in MDIF’s bi-annual Media Forum that brings together 150 media, partners, funders, staff and Board members from nearly 40 countries.
Grants and research
MMP provides technical assistance grants to selected participating media to enable them to cover specific needs contributing to their long-term sustainability. MMP also commissions or purchases content analysis and market research data to further the program's goals and publishes its own reports on the Myanmar media sector.
Assessing the business challenges facing Myanmar's media from COVID-19 and more
In its December 2020 report, Good for Business: Creating Inclusive Media Businesses in Myanmar, MMP makes the case for inclusion: not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense as, when done well, it improves performance, increases creativity and innovation, and results in better financial returns. The report includes a survey conducted with 35 private Myanmar media outlets, reflections by four senior executives working in the Myanmar media and advertising sectors about the value of having inclusion policies and practices and the implications of failing to do so, and practical advice about how to get started on incorporating inclusion practices into a media business. You can find the English digital version here.
A Map of Private Local Media in Myanmar's Ethnic States and Regions: In October 2020, in the run-up to Myanmar's national parliamentary elections, we published an updated version of our local media map, providing insight into a sector that has been battered by COVID-19, and a comprehensive repository of local media players by location, region and platform. You can find the digital version here or download the PDF version here.
In July 2020, MMP published Myanmar's Media Response to COVID-19 in Burmese and English, a survey of media that confirmed that the impact of COVID-19 was swift and damaging, particularly on the bottom line. The survey was conducted in June covering the period March through May. All but two of the 36 respondents experienced revenue declines over the period. Half reported a fall in revenue of 75% or more, considerably higher than the 40-60% that our partners elsewhere in the world reported. Amidst this hardship, there is a glimmer of good news. As has been experienced by media in other countries, Myanmar media have seen a marked growth in their digital audiences.
MMP did more than carry out research as the economic impact of the pandemic struck. As advertising revenues collapsed, MMP devised and implemented an innovative response that supported the finances and business capacity of its media partners, while also providing valuable health information to the public. In April 2020, MMP invited 10 media partners to submit proposals to produce a series of Public Service Announcements about COVID-19 for dissemination on their platforms and subsequently expanded the initiative to include 17 more. Designed as a business opportunity, media had to develop proposals, negotiate with ‘advertisers’ and meet performance targets. This enabled them to earn income and learn new skills, while sharing important health information with 26 million people. The success of this initiative has led MDIF to plan for its expansion beyond COVID-19 to address other public interest topics and messages relevant to its partners’ audience needs in different parts of the country. This will ensure that valuable public service information continues to be disseminated and that participating media can continue to generate income that helps them produce the news and information their audiences need, while at the same time receiving business training and advice in a real world context. Read more in English or Burmese.
The Business of Chin Media: In December 2019 we published The Business of Chin Media, original research and analysis of the current status and challenges facing Chin media operations, as well as the news and information needs and preferences of Chin living in Chin State and Sagaing Region. It is accompanied by an interactive map which we updated in October 2020. Read the report in Burmese and English or check out the interactive map and download the PDF version.
In March 2019 MDIF created an inclusion poster for Myanmar newsrooms as a daily reminder of inclusion and gender Dos and Don’ts. The poster was distributed to our partners and other Myanmar media newsrooms. The idea came from inclusion workshops held with MDIF media partners Mon News Agency and Myikyina News Journal. The Burmese cartoonist Soe San Win created the cartoons, MDIF’s inclusion and gender consultant Jane Stageman created the text, and Indonesian graphic designer Arcaya Manikotama created the poster. Click here to see the Myanmar language version and here for the English language version.
In November 2018 we also published An Unfavorable Business: Running Local Media in Myanmar's Ethnic States and Regions, a 66-page report that assesses the business challenges faced by the country's local media outlets. The report is based on research conducted in 2018, as well as data gathered during our work with Myanmar media.You can download the full pdf version in English here or in Burmese here.
MMP's In-house trainings are very useful and practical and meet our needs. MDIF-MMP is very active and closely monitors our activities and pushes us to advance.
Regular communication with our coach is very valuable and he encourages us to meet our targets; regular training evaluations and needs assessments help us stay focused on future plans.