USAID BURMA SEEKS MEDIA AGENCY

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission to Burma is in the process of designing a new activity to support efforts to expand access to information among the general public and hold the country’s public servants and businesses, as well as regional and international actors, including donors , accountable. Subject to availability of funds, it is anticipated that this activity will be implemented over a period of five years. To that end, USAID requests comments and information about interests, capabilities, and market information related to the attached document contained in this file and the set of specific questions included therein to inform the design.

This Request for Information (RFI) is issued solely for planning purposes and is published in accordance with FAR Part 10 and FAR 15.201(e). 

This RFI is open for comments from any interested US and Non-US Organizations. This is neither a solicitation nor a call for proposals. Any proposals submitted in response to this request will not be considered. 

Please do not submit applications, proposals, resumes or promotional materials, as they will be discarded. The submission shall be written in English with each page numbered consecutively. 

Responses to this RFI should be submitted to USAID via email to burmaoaa@usaid.gov with subject line “RFI – USAID’s Media Support Activity”, no later than the date and time stated above. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. 

All information provided will become the property of USAID and will not be returned. USAID reserves the right to use information provided by respondents for its purposes, including, but not limited to, potentially sharing that information with third parties. Proprietary information must not be sent. The issuance of this request will not restrict the Government’s ultimate approach, if any. Respondents are advised that USAID is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information, answer questions or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. Any information submitted in response to this notice is voluntary and USAID does not plan to post responses to SAM.gov. Not responding to this request does not preclude participation in any future solicitation, if any is issued.  

Background:

Independent media plays a critical role in any democracy – nascent or developed – in supporting a more informed public, increasing accountability within government and the private sector, and serving as a platform for public discourse writ large. Globally, independent media continues to evolve with the ever-changing currents of global trade, conflict, and new technology. As Burma continues its democratic transition and economic transformation, the country’s independent media is exposed and subject to these global currents, in addition to the Burma’s own rapid political and economic changes since 2008. These international and domestic factors have given rise to new and innovative opportunities to engage Burma’s myriad of audiences, while also creating intense pressures on media business models. 

USAID believes that Burma’s media sector is constrained by the global pressures on media houses to adapt to new technologies and consumption patterns, while simultaneously operating in an increasingly challenging environment and subject to geopolitical pressures. USAID seeks to balance its long-term focus on sustainability with the clear need for a short-to-medium term support that helps to maintain integrity and objectivity of reporting within the sector. 

USAID seeks to expand access to information among Burma’s diverse public and hold to account the country’s public servants and businesses, as well as regional and international actors, including donors. USAID is seeking input on approaches that support the editorial independence, security, and financial sustainability of Burma’s media, increase the reach and influence of independent media in States and Regions, improve quality and reporting depth on issues critical to political and economic transition, and contribute to the media sector’s long-term financial and political sustainability.

USAID is considering a new, stand-alone media support activity that contributes to the objectives of the Agency’s Journey to Self Reliance and the U.S. Government’s Indo-Pacific Vision. The activity will consider the need, viability, and utility of support to independent media outlets and journalists, including educational opportunities, access to information, and support to develop more sustainable business models tailored to the local media markets served; material support for the renovation, maintenance, and expansion of production and distribution facilities – including necessary technology, analytical practices; and technical assistance associated with business sustainability and viability, use of technology and social media, and improving the quality of reporting.

Scope of Work:

USAID is requesting information on the potential new Media Support Activity which will be implemented over a period of five years. The objectives of the activity are proposed as follows:

1. Maintain and expand the space for independent media in Burma to develop sustainable business models that preserve journalistic integrity and editorial independence.

2. Support the competitiveness of independent media in an environment marked by increasing financial, legal, and political pressures.

 Respondents are asked to provide input on some or all of the following questions:

1. What technical approaches should USAID consider to achieve the activity’s objectives?

2.  How should USAID balance support for ethnic media outlets alongside more nationally focused media outlets?  Are particular media markets in greater need of support than others?

3. Should donors segment independent media, i.e., newspapers, television, radio, social media/online, geographically, or treat them holistically? If they should be segmented, what is the most productive way to do so?

4. What are the most critical obstacles to the sustainability of independent media in Burma? What support would be most useful in the next three to five years?

5. Are there gaps in current donor support to the media sector? What should donors be doing more or less of to support independent media?

6. What opportunities exist to leverage private sector support for independent media that preserve journalistic integrity and editorial independence?

7. Are there gaps in the government’s capacity to provide timely, accurate information to journalists that should be addressed to advance the goals of this activity?

8. Does independent media have sufficient access to demographic and viewership/listenership information, and the technical capacity to translate that information into content, audience targeting, advertising, and other forms of revenue generation? 

9. What is the relationship and role of social media vis-à-vis independent media in Burma?

10. Does independent media have sufficient access to relevant and necessary technology (traditional and new) to maximize its potential geographic and demographic reach and increase its own economic viability?

11. To what extent are different economic/business models potentially viable in the Burma for independent media (i.e., media models based on content development, distribution, broadcast, hardware or software development, other commercial or public good models)? 

12. What are the most appropriate methods for providing this type of support to media outlets of varying sizes serving different localized markets?

13. What are the risks associated with this type of activity? How can these be mitigated over the course of implementation?

14. What connections exist between Burma-based media and international news outlets, researchers? Are there unmet opportunities for collaboration?

15. Are there media assistance methods that would be unhelpful in Burma’s current context? Are there donor practices that USAID should seek to avoid when establishing a new media activity?

16. What can be done to support the development of the next generation of journalists and to retain existing media practitioners to continue to contribute to the sector?

Due Date:

February 14, 2020

Address:

Department of State, East Asian & Pacific Posts, U.S. Embassy Rangoon, Burma

110 University Ave.

Rangoon, Burma INT

MWWPR and Edelman PR are relevant agencies

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