By Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist
Press censorship is one thing, but what about actually telling the media what to present as news?
Matichon Weekly, the most respected weekly in Thailand, has a long running media monitor column.
The following is the direct translation from that “Media Monitor” column:
“As for what the Thai press has called the government, there is one portion relating to the media. That is “Ring…Lion of the Press” given to Sathit Wongnongteuy, the minister attached to the prime minister office. The detail is that he would order the government controlled media, especially when there is protest, there would be calls to the editorial department of newspaper and TV media. That call is to set the direction of the reporting of the news. This makes some press un-happy, but they have no alternative but to comply. Every time the phone rings and it is Sathit, every media would feel the fright and scared at the orders that comes,” says Matichon Weekly writer.
The Thai prime minister, Abhisit, to which Sathit serves directly under, is pushing for a major Thai Media Reform Bill. Details of the bill had been hotly debated in Thailand-with most Thai media, saying they do not expect the level of press freedom in Thailand to improve. The latest is that Abhisit will push the bill forward, in what Matichon says Thai media are all worried at the “Implementation Stage” of the bill-that puts the entire Thai media freedom at risks.
The Thai constitution says all TV and Radio hard infrastructures that belongs to the government and the military must be transferred out of their control and place under the jurisdiction of the independent Thai media/telecom regulators.
However, no progress have been made. Traditional media outlets such as the Bangkok Post and the Nation have lucrative contract with the Abhisit government controlled TV infrastructures. Most radio stations are also in government hands-where traditional media such as the Nation have a strong presence.
Most of the press, such as print, internet and community radio, critical of the government had long been terminated-with a few trickling back into operation.