Thai Media on … Thai media
It looks like lately Thai journalists discuss a lot their own role and performance. One might think they are being self critical, but no – actually they are more like defending their own “standards” (or rather absence of any), justify the “Democrats” gov. media control and even call for MORE control !
fellow bloggers makes their own comments.
here is BangkokDan’s post (Absolutely Bangkok blog) on new moves by gov to control media more (now TV and radio too) :
…new prior permission required before each program is broadcast rules for all TV and radio programming in Thailand… if Thaksin had proposed anything near this, the PAD/yellow crowds would be in the streets… the international press coverage will be another nail in the positive image of Thailand that most of the world still carries around in their heads…
here is the Bkk Post article mentioned in his post : “Unnecessary censorship”
The National Telecommunications Commission usually flies under the radar of public awareness. But when the group comes out with a ruling, it is often a noteworthy declaration. The request on Wednesday for permission to govern the content of every community radio and satellite TV station was sensational by any standard. The NTC was charged by the 1997 Constitution to return the public airwaves to the public. Now, the commission proposes to place a whole new set of public broadcasters under its control, including monitoring and censoring the broadcasts themselves. The regulations are only a proposal by the NTC. It is disturbing that the government has apparently leapt to support the commission’s request, without any public input or parliamentary discussion.
The country has the word of PM’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey that the NTC would never overstep its responsibility, and only would take action if broadcasters used “politically incendiary” statements…
These proposed regulations are onerous and will be opposed by all advocates of free speech and a free press. They are nothing less than political pressure on new broadcast media to exert fearful self-censorship. According to the government, they require every such “new media” broadcaster to get prior permission from the regulators before they begin any programme. This is not only intimidation of the worst sort, it is clearly impractical. Under these regulations, any media under NTC control would have to wait for permission to comment on current events – in other words, neither news nor comment on the news would even be legal.
Both Mr Sathit and the NTC should withdraw these poorly thought-out proposals. The NTC should start again, and redraft regulations that reflect its founding purpose, which is to ensure that all segments of the public have access to the broadcast media. The government, starting with Mr Sathit’s office, should also rethink its stand, beginning from the premise that the constitution – the supreme law of the land – guarantees full press freedom and forbids prior censorship of any kind.
Mr Sathit and the NTC have failed totally to explain why new and special content regulations are required at all. There are plenty of laws to keep broadcasting civil. Treason is illegal, just for example, as are defamation and inciting to riot. These laws seem more than enough to keep a civil tongue in the head of all broadcasters.
If these two offices properly reconsider the issues of community radio and satellite TV, they will realise these are democratic outlets which must be allowed greater freedom, not given more shackles. They must not be tied up in bureaucratic regulation and government attempts to censor. Technical regulations are necessary so that community radio stations can broadcast on limited frequencies, and not interfere with neighbours in the province or on the assigned frequency. No special regulations are needed by the NTC to govern content, and none should be given.
well, I tend to agree with opinion expressed on AB blog (quoted above) that Thailand is inevitably sliding towards dictatorship as Burma, or as some people call it now “Thainmar”.
Fonzi comments on his TJTS blog :
First, Abhisit wants to use the intelligence agencies and secret slush fund tax payer money to crush anti-government dissent. Now, he want to filter anti-government content on the community radio and television stations. The Nation’s editorial silence is deafening. Abhisit is no longer Thailand’s Barack Obama. He is now Thailand’s Richard Nixon, but only worse. Nixon didn’t get away with his crimes; Abhisit will.
Prachathai post today (with reference to Reporters Without Borders website) in regard to this matter :
“The adoption of these regulations would deal a fatal blow to free expression in Thailand, which is already heavily restricted on the Internet,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The government will have the power to ban programmes that question their policies and legitimacy. We urge the authorities to scrap this plan.”
read comments there too.
PPT blog has a post titled “Authoritarian Democrats” :
Democrat Party-led administration under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has repeatedly cracked down on the media, especially when it has suited its political purposes…
Despite Abhisit’s claims to being a true liberal democrat and to be open and transparent, his government continues to use lese majeste and computer crimes laws to restrict the internet and free speech. The government has repeatedly closed down or blocked so-called red media and senior Democrat figures have regularly accused the foreign media as being in the pay of Thaksin. The government, confident in mainstream media support, has tried to limit the freedom of all non-mainstream media, even claiming that it wants to limit “divisive” SMS messages.
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) is now saying that it is “alarmed by a government announcement on 14 May that it will introduce new regulations for community radio stations and cable and satellite TV stations aimed at controlling programme content.” RWB says that this plan requires broadcasters “to seek permission for each programme being aired”…Democrat and regular and determined advocate for limiting the media Sathit Wongnongtoey, the minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, said “the regulations would enable the authorities to take action against any broadcaster airing content deemed to undermine democracy.” Disturbingly, in claiming that this control would be “enforced even-handedly” Sathit seems only too pleased to argue for widespread government control of the media in the interests of preventing any content considered by the government to be “politically incendiary.”
a week ago Abhisit is quoted by Nation in regard to new upcoming (supposedly today ?) newspaper by red-shirts :
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Saturday warned The Red News, whichi is a new newspaper of the red-shirt movement, not to distort information to instigate rifts and violence. Abhisit said anyone or any group can use its media as long as it will break the law. He said if the newspaper presents distorted information, it will create damages to the country and violate the law. The prime minister said the government did not harm the people but simply wanted to return the country to normality following the Songkran riots so the red-shirt movement should not try to use the issue to instigate more rifts.
in other words, Abhisit makes it clear that he will not allow ANY attempts to “use the issue” (actual facts of what has happened on Apr 13th – whether protesters were killed by gov. or not). in another article on Bkk post there are more explicit indications of Abhisit’s taboo on this matter:
The government did not allow the opposition to show video clips about the crackdown on the protesters because it would only exacerbate the problem, he said.
neither government bothered much to provide sufficient facts about it, even though it has especially set up a whole website for this very purpose.
till now Engl. page of this website remains empty, which has prompted even one of PAD supporters to comment on his blog :
The Abhisit government has taken the public opinion war to the Internet by launching a website depicting its versions of events that led up to, and followed the incidents on Songkran day, 13 April. It also has an English language icon which when clicked results in this sight for sore eyes. Yes, one could say that the government has nothing to say to foreigners, no facts to refute the opposition’s versions of events. The website clearly says, “page not found”. Cynics would laugh at the message it is sending out.
However, on the Thai language section, the site has a smattering of no doubt carefully screened pictures and a few video clips. It has a list of government announcements and news clips too. However, as of yet aside from the non-existent English language version of the site, it seems to totally lack any narrative or message and the viewer is left to browse through this scrapbook and come to his own conclusion as to what happened.
Dear Minister Satit, perhaps a simple message along the lines of, “We didn’t kill anyone”, might have been nice to start readers along the right way…
The joke site is produced by the Office of the Prime Minister under which Satit Wongnongtoey is the Minister to the PM’s Office responsible for media.
Yoon has published his piece on Nation : ” When ‘neutrality’ means that fact and fiction get mixed up”
… it’s a great source of concern to note that a good part of the mainstream media have increasingly become common carriers, transmitters of other people’s ideas and thoughts, irrespective of substance, relevance and even accuracy.
Worse, outright lies and wild, groundless allegations now get the same degree of prominence and space as vital, verified facts – all in the name of being “neutral” and “fair” to all parties concerned.
When wild accusations and proven facts get equal treatment, that’s when fairness gets thrown out the window. But the fear factor and the survival instinct of a severely polarised and divisive society have pushed a good number of journalists into what I consider to be “submissive journalism”.
Under this passive state of mind, in this climate of fear and reprisal, some professional newsmen have given up on bold investigative journalism
Perhaps, the current state of apathy – the total lack of critical coverage of the real issues that have plunged the country into the political abyss – has stemmed from the conviction in certain quarters that national reconciliation can be achieved only through glossing over embarrassing facts …
wow ! one might think this is actually someone else speaking about Yoon and his Nation news empire ! 😀
especially many people are genuinely amused by Yoon’s even mentioning of “investigative journalism” – because he has never been noticed for any such.
NM blog has its own post on Yoon’s article and some comments by readers :
Surely if there is a lack of “critical coverage of the real issues” Suthichai and the other heavy-weights in his publishing group should take some responsibility for that state of affairs? So will we hear more of these “embarrassing facts”? Will he and his colleagues step up to meet the challenge that he has now set out?
I would be genuinely delighted to hear which, say, three or four “real issues” Suthichai feels are worthy of a “real investigative report”? Perhaps New Mandala readers can offer their own suggestions on where the energies of Thailand’s investigative journalists should be devoted…
readers comment :
… The whole article is full of tautology and it becomes a play on what he’s ‘attempting’ to elucidate. His idea of being critical of power, reporting on the truth etc is all very amusing because it glosses over any articulation of the power which needs to be questioned toothlessly
I find the whole article absurd, a strawman argument coming as it does from someone associated with the Nation, a newspaper which, far from being “neutral” in its coverage, has prostituted itsself as a propaganda outlet for the current government and its political allies. I can only assume that Khun Suthichai hasn’t been reading his own newspaper if he thinks its been blurring facts and fiction for the sake of neutrality. I have seen more objective new reporting in the Burma Times…
In its pushing of reactionary political agendas … the role of newspapers and TVs in the Nation ‘family’ with Sutthichai Yoon as General-Editor-in-Chief during these past few years has been an absolute disgrace to journalism, perhaps second only to the Manager group. In fact, one could argue that it’s even worse than the Manager group. The latter has, for all intent and purpose, been an organ of a political movement, but the Nation still pretenteously professes to be ‘news organization’, as is shown in this unconsciously self-denouncing piece of Sutthichai...
spot on! it is indeed an UNCONCSIOUS self-denouncing by Sutthichai – does he even realize that yet ? 🙂
so, both Thai government and even Thai media which brownoses it, are trying desperately to place a firm leah on the any information sources which are not in line with the “Official truths“. will Thailand become “Thainmar” or even more rigid autocratic regime ?