One more new FM radio station will be set up soon in Shan State East’s Tachilek, opposite Thailand’s Maesai, according sources from the Thai-Burma border.
It is due to start broadcasting as of the beginning of coming year, 2010. However, there have been no further details of how it will be programmed, but it is expected to be similar to the existing Cherry FM program, the source said.
Cherry FM is based at Shan State capital, Taunggyi, started broadcasting in August, targeting to air over a 50 mile radius in every part of Shan State, southern, northern and eastern. It is owned by a private company, Zaygaba. Nevertheless it was jointly operated by the junta military.
The program focuses on entertainment and the junta’s own news features, according to a resident from Taunggyi.
The news section is read in Burmese language and the entertainment focuses on ethnic music especially Shan and Pa-O songs. By serving such entertainment, the program is gaining popularity among the people especially youths. “My sister and brother listen to it every day. We like to listen to the songs rather than the news sections,” he said.
Another one, a Pa-O youth shared the same view. “I just listen to the music, not the news because it is so boring,” he said.
A source who regularly listens to exile radio programs said, “The junta military is trying to counter the influence of the exile media.”
Observers have also said the junta is looking for new campaign strategy for the elections as the number of local FM radio stations is increasing.
The existing FM radio stations in Burma are: Rangoon City FM, Mandalay City FM, Pyinsawaddy FM in Arakan State (Rakhine), Padamya FM in Kachin State, Shwe FM in Pegu (Bago) division and Cherry FM in Shan State.
Shwe FM covers over the Pegu and Tenasserim divisions, and Karen and Mon state. The Cherry FM covers Shan state and Karenni state; Padamya FM across Magwe and Sagaing divisions, and Kachin state and Chin state. Another one Pyinsawaddy FM is covers Rakhine and Irrawaddy Division. However, these are all under the operation of the Ministry of Information.
Radio stations operating outside Burma include Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Radio Free Asia (RFA), BBC and Voice of America (VOA). All the stations are also running weekly ethnic programs in their own mother tongues as well.