WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (12 – 18 August 2017)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week:


Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)



Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)

Tabloid Columnist Wounded in Batangas Shooting


Libel Cases: Three Journalists Charged, One Case Dismissed, News Team Posts Bail

See also:

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
NUJP on Ted Failon’s libel suit



Burma News International (BNI)
Concerns voiced about media coverage of Myanmar

See also:

Coconuts Yangon: “Did the Myanmar Times editor admit to producing propaganda?


Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)
MEDIA AGENTS SNARED P360M IN COMMISSION | Some 50 TV, radio, print outfits did not submit all pol ads docs?” ; “SIDEBAR | Media most blessed



Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)
PCIJ Launches Story Project to Support Creative Storytelling Backed by Journalistic Research



The Cambodia Daily: “RFA, VOA Under Scrutiny Amid Tax Investigations

“Two U.S.-funded radio broadcasters joined The Cambodia Daily and NGOs in what appeared to be a broadening and increasingly public Finance Ministry investigation into tax payments by institutions known for tense relationships with the government…. Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) have not registered with the tax department and do not have proper media licenses, according to a letter signed on Friday (11 August 2017) by Finance Minister Aun Porn Moniroth and carried by government-aligned Fresh News the same day. The letter asks Information Minister Khieu Kanharith to look into the latter charge.”

See also:

The Nation: “After Cambodia Daily’s $6M bill, tax authority targets Radio Free Asia, Voice Of America


The Cambodia Daily: “Ministry Urges ‘Ethical Responsibility’ in Reporting on Violence Against Women

“The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is urging the media to ‘bear ethical responsibility’ in reporting on news about violence against women, days after a TV host apologized for making what he later said was a joke about a teenager’s rape and murder.”


The Cambodia Daily: “Rights Groups Raise Alarm Over Threats, Surveillance

“Top staff members at Cambodia’s largest human rights organizations are reporting intensifying levels of harassment, surveillance, intimidation and threats, describing pervasive and unprecedented pressure nationwide ahead of next year’s national election.”



Radio New Zealand (RNZ): “Human Rights Watch calls for more international scrutiny of West Papua

“He (Andreas Harsono) said international media coverage was particularly needed given Indonesian journalists relied heavily on state information for their reporting and some had even been known to work as informants for security authorities…But in a statement, the Indonesian government said it strongly condemned reports that it did not allow international media access to its Papuan regions.”



Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Three charged with insulting Najib

“A recruiter, a storekeeper and a roti canai seller have been charged separately at a Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur on Friday (18 August 2017) with allegedly insulting Prime Minister Najib Razak…The three were charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) which carries a maximum RM50,000 fine or one-year imprisonment or both, upon conviction.”


Asian Correspondent: “Malaysian censorship laws take a hit after refugee films stifled

“Activists say the Film Censorship Board (LPF) officials came to the Refugee Festival in Kuala Lumpur late last week, subsequently demanding the partial censorship of Bou, a film about trafficked brides from Burma (Myanmar), and total ban on Kakuma Can Dance about refugee hip hop dancers in Kenya.”


The Star Online: “No freedom of information as long as OSA remains, says lawyer

“The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act will not serve its purpose of creating a transparent government as long as the Official Secrets Act (OSA) exists, says constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan (pic)…. He said this was because the powers enshrined under the OSA will override the FOI Act.”



The Irrawaddy: “Detained Journalists Denied Second Bail Appeal in Unlawful Association Case

“The second bail appeal for three detained journalists from The Irrawaddy and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) was rejected by the Hsipaw Township Court judge, with national security being cited as the reason.”


The Irrawaddy: “Yangon Chief Minister Files Complaint Against Reuters

“Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein filed a complaint against wire news agency Reuters on Monday (14 August 2017) over an article about his regional government’s deal to import buses from China, Myanmar Press Council told The Irrawaddy.”

See also:

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Court Grants Bail to Former Student Activist Charged With Defamation


Reuters. “Commentary: Aung San Suu Kyi’s free press dilemma

“Aung San Suu Kyi is treating the press in Myanmar poorly, and that may impede her efforts to democratize the conflict-wrought country. But is Suu Kyi’s apparent authoritarian streak mere caution? Expanding civil liberties too forcefully could bait the former junta into retaking full control of the Southeast Asian nation, setting back the cause of liberty and democracy.”


Mizzima: “Progress but challenges remain on media front – Expert

“While there is progress on media front, the issues and challenges remain.  Of particular significance is free environment for journalists to work and report. From the media industry point of view, commercial viability of private entities is an issue which needs to be addressed through policy support.  On the content side, mechanisms of self-regulation are critical.”


Reuters: “Myanmar retains tough clause in communications law despite calls for repeal

“Myanmar’s parliament on Friday (18 August 2017) made minor changes to a controversial telecommunications law, amendments rights monitors say will do little to address concern the law is used to curb criticism of the authorities and reporting of corruption.”



ABS-CBN News: “Ted Failon posts bail for libel charges

“Broadcast journalist Ted Failon on Tuesday (15 August 2017) posted bail at a local court in Tagaytay City after he was indicted for libel for alleged questionable content of an episode of ABS-CBN show ‘Failon Ngayon….’ Former MMDA Chairman Francisco Tolentino filed a libel case against Failon and three other staff members of the ABS-CBN current affairs program Failon Ngayon.”

See also:

Manila Bulletin: “Ted Failon ordered arrested for libel


SunStar Davao: “NBI official files libel case vs journalist

“The National Bureau of Investigation-Southern Mindanao Regional Office (NBI-Semro) sees the filing of a libel case as a way for a journalist and a woman to answer the issues earlier hurled against an official and members of the bureau…. NBI-Semro director lawyer Arnold Rosales, assisted by his legal counsel, filed a libel case against Editha Caduaya, of Newsline Philippines, and a certain Amadea Aquino, before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office (CPO), on Thursday, August 17.”


Manila Bulletin: “Gov’t task force to expedite probe on killing of reporter

“The presidential task force on media security has assured the family of slain newspaper reporter Leodoro Diaz that justice will be served against the perpetrators of the gruesome killing, the second incident of media killing in the province since 2004.”

See also:

P400,000 bounty for mediaman’s killers
The Philippine Star: “RSF worried about Phl journalists’ safety


Rappler.com. “Duterte’s target: The Philippine Daily Inquirer

“Duterte started with subtle hits but has since ramped up tirades against the Philippine Daily Inquirer before the Prieto family sold its majority stake to businessman Ramon Ang, close friend of the President”


Rappler.com: “Duterte’s ace against ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ biggest network

“(President Rodrigo) Duterte said he will block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise after the network allegedly refused to air his political ads for the 2016 elections…. Experts told Rappler that Duterte’s warning against ABS-CBN is a threat to press freedom…. This comes as Duterte warns other media outlets, such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, of ‘karma’ for supposedly writing unfairly about him.”


ABS-CBN News. “Veteran journo: Blogging not the same as journalism

“A veteran journalist on Tuesday (8 August 2017) said Malacañang’s accreditation of bloggers could send a signal to the public that journalists and bloggers with a huge following are equal and the same…. Speaking to ANC on Tuesday, Vergel Santos of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) stressed that training and discipline are the just two main factors that separate journalists from bloggers.”

See also:

Rappler.com. “State-sponsored hate: The rise of the pro-Duterte bloggers


ABS-CBN News: “Sabotage? Gov’t to look into errors of state-run news agency

“Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Saturday (12 August 2017) said the government would look into possible sabotage following a string of errors at the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA).”

See also:

PNA sourced wrong DOLE logo from Google: Andanar
GMA News Online: “Andanar sends memo to PCOO socmed managers after ‘fafda’ tweet



Bangkok Post: “Journalists rap government’s ‘media interference’

“Journalists have criticised the government for media interference after the director-general of the Public Relations Department asked TV stations to cover each minister during the mobile cabinet meeting in Nakhon Ratchasima early next week.”

See also:

The Nation: “Govt plan to influence media coverage slammed
Prachatai English: “Junta wants media to promote cabinet’s work


Prachatai English: “Pai Dao Din sentenced to 2 years, 6 months in jail for royal defamation

“After about eights months of detention, a provincial court has handed a two and a half year jail term to a well-known democracy activist accused of lèse majesté for sharing a BBC biography of King Vajiralongkorn…. On 15 August 2017, the Provincial Court of Khon Kaen handed five years of imprisonment to Jatuphat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key democracy activist, accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.”

See also:

The Nation. “Monarchy always shows mercy in lese majeste cases: Prayut
Yahoo! News: “Thai student leader pleads guilty to lese majeste
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): “Thai Activist Jailed for the Crime of Sharing an Article on Facebook


Reuters: “Thai 14-year-old boy and 8 others charged with royal defamation

“A 14-year-old boy, along with 8 others, have been charged with royal defamation, a police officer in Khon Kaen province told Reuters on Friday (18 August 2017)…. The nine suspects were allegedly involved in setting fire to portraits of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in several spots around the northeastern province of Khon Kaen in May.”

See also:

Khaosod English: “8 youths charged with insulting monarchy for allegedly burning portraits



Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF calls for release of Vietnamese blogger about to go on trial

“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Nguyen Van Oai, a dissident blogger who is due to be tried in the central province of Nghe An on 21 August. It will be his second trial in four years.”


VnExpress International. “Slowly but steadily: The demise of print media in Vietnam

“The decline of print media in Vietnam becomes more obvious when you look at how much the few remaining vendors are struggling on the streets of big cities, such as Hanoi and Saigon…20 years after Que Huong, Vietnam’s first online newspaper, was launched, Vietnamese readers are looking more to the internet for their news, especially younger audiences.”


Xinhua: “Vietnam’s Journalism Museum inaugurated

“The Vietnam Journalists Association inaugurated the Journalism Museum here on Wednesday (16 August 2017).”



Please refer to this blog for other media, press freedom, and free expression stories not included in this roundup.

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