Media censorship condemned
PPT and Prachathai has posted about latest RWB article “State of emergency used to censor pro-opposition media”
Reporters Without Borders deplores the censorship, closure and banning of many media linked to the opposition United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) since the UDD’s violent “red-shirt” demonstrations in Bangkok on 13 April… The press freedom organisation added: “Such actions by the authorities cast doubt on the desire to ‘reconcile the different political parties’ professed by the government when it took office. We call for the lifting of the state of emergency, which just blocks access to news and information and encourages a climate of fear.”
Prachatai has another relevent article “Shutting down media exposes Govt’s fears” :
The unprecedented crackdown … will only do more damage to the development of Thai democracy in the long run… No censored society can be democratic…
If society takes the road of censorship, who then will decide what is fit to be published or aired on TV or radio? How can impartiality be guaranteed if there’s some sort of supreme political censorship organ? And what side effect and repercussions will it have?..
The more the state pulls the plug on all the few remaining red-media outlets, the more these people feel the government has something to hide from them.
On top of that, muzzling media opposed to the government is an insult to the people by any elected administration, as it implies the people will simply swallow up “propaganda” spread by the red or yellow-shirt media in toto.
If some elite believe that people can be so easily brainwashed, then perhaps it’s not long before some will conclude that many citizens are not qualified or are incapable of making their own election decision.
The problem lies not in the many versions of the “truth” about political reality being spread by red-shirt or yellow-shirt media, but the fact that many reds or yellows no longer trust state-controlled media or those closely aligned with the current powers that be.
Shutting red-shirt media down and force feeding them three times a day with the official version of what took place from April 13-14, and on the claim that no protesters were killed by the Army, won’t change these people’s minds but will most likely have the opposite effect as long as the media landscape is restricted… the one-sided media being shut down by the state and branded as mere propaganda tools happened to be anti-government and not ones manufactured by the state.
It also only differs from other media spreading rumours and gossip about pop stars or superstitions in that the red-shirt media have become a threat to the very existence of the government and the state. That’s all .
Some comments :
People do not listen to the radio or read the print media for political news as it is full of government propaganda! They prefer to look for information in blogs, alternative internet newspapers, you tube ,or simply listen to rumours or sms messages.
The Government eventually loses credibility!
those in power always feel that the only way not to lose control is to silence dissent and impose their own version of what’s going on. perhaps it reflects these big boys’ sense of insecurity, the feeling that their power is being threatened…
This matter is widely discussed on net everywhere, here is another blog Fringer :
The fact that even the press and the vast majority of academics seem to choose sides and resort to convenient but misleading “X vs. Y” stereotypes widens the rift between UDD and PAD, harms the already very polarized society, and makes the whole truth about anything much harder to surface…
Speaking of the press, the situation is quite depressing. The vast majority of Thai media have chosen sides; they routinely and spinelessly conduct self-censorship...
There are many other things discussed and opined. However one thing is common: a disgust at Thai media self-censorship and bias, as well as condemnation of government’s blocking of all the oppositions media sources (TV, radio, internet).
Meanwhile Emergency decree is still acting in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, as well as Media Blackout.
Parlament has 2nd day of debates on “reconciliation” and finding solutions out of current political mess.
Abhisit didn’t even bother to tell – how long Emergency and closure of opposition meadi will continue.
The implicit question posed is one that the PM Abhisit government would be wise to consider:
will media repression quell the politics in the streets, or simply intensify protests?
some quotes from the source article:
Satit Wonghnongtaey, who is in charge of government’s media policy, told reporters that the government needed to shut down these media, suggesting they had been used to incite unrest in the country…
Campaign on Popular Media Reform, which campaigns on free news media, said the closure of D station constituted the ‘blockage of freedom of information and freedom of opinion of local people and those who have different political views — an act which could intensify the conflict and force those people to go underground’…
In May 1992 [Read: Black May and also “Remembering Black May 1992“], the government blocked television coverage of the anti-government protests. This censorship led to more people joining the protests, and bloodshed later in the month, forcing the government to step down.
Thai television, the main source of news for people across the country, is all too easily controlled by the government, with all of the main stations either owned or operated by the state. Controlling news media, particularly the television, has always been a key strategy of those in power in time of political turmoil. However, such a policy could also lead to greater opposition to the rulers.