Producing content that is informative, educational and entertaining is Burma’s national broadcaster MRTV’s new charter, as it strives to produce radio, television and online content that reflects the diversity of Burma’s issues, peoples and cultures, and meets citizens information needs.
Burma’s transition from authoritarian rule to democracy began in 2011. It includes significant reforms to the media sector. As part of this MRTV, the national broadcaster is transitioning from a state media to a public service media role - to serve the people.
ABCID is partnering with MRTV and Danish media development organisation International Media Support (IMS) to build the capacity of its radio services to manage this transition. The work revolves around guiding MRTV as it builds organisational and staff capacity, and develops new content formats. Support includes media craft skills training, organisational management advice, digital online assistance and developing new content that is inclusive of and responsive to audience needs and wants.
Mama Oo Health Education Radio Drama
ABCID recently completed a specific activity focused on health educational content. This media development project worked with Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) to produce an eight part 15 minute episode radio series on maternal health issues. This series, funded by the Australian Embassy, combines entertaining narrative with specific educational maternal and child health messaging throughout and was broadcast on MRTV from 20 December 2015 for eight weeks, and will be re-broadcast on FM stations and Radio Australia early in 2016. You can listen to the series in Burmese here.
“Ma Ma Oo” is the second radio co-production between MRTV and ABC. The series follows a successful pilot program in 2014 on the same maternal and child health theme and featuring the same main character, Ma Ma Oo. The pilot demonstrated listeners increased their knowledge and changed their attitudes as a result of the information and issues covered. It showed that media can play a vital role in communities, contributing to development issues like improving health. In Myanmar radio is the most accessible media, especially for reaching rural and ethnic communities. The pilot radio series was the country's first co-production with a foreign media on development issues and audience research showed the series has had a major impact, with significant shifts in listeners’ knowledge, attitudes and intention to change behaviours. The research report can be found below.
Radio drama is a relatively new format for audiences in Myanmar and this is a rare local co-production. MRTV production staff voiced the characters and local technical expertise to produce the series. ABC International Development specialists oversaw the direction, scripting and production processes.
Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in South East Asia and has among the lowest social development indicators in the region. Health outcomes are among the worst and women and children bear the brunt. Around one in 14 children dies before the age of five and the United Nations estimates that 2,400 pregnant women die annually of largely preventable causes.