After the state broadcasting agency abruptly ordered a red-shirt TV off air on Thursday night, the station issued a statement against the order, saying that it was partial and motivated by politics.
Peace TV, a TV station affiliated with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), a red-shirt group, on Friday issued a public statement against the order from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand (NBCT)’s Broadcasting Committee to ban all its programmes from 8:30 pm on 30 April onwards.
The statement pointed out that the NBTC partially sided with the authorities and abused its power in suspending Peace TV’s broadcasting.
Peace TV’s statement also reveals some of the content of its programmes which the NBTC cited in its order as sentences that incited conflict and divisiveness in the kingdom, causing the NBTC to issue the blackout order.
One of the alleged divisive sentences which were used on the Mong Klai (Looking from a Distance) programme of Peace TV on 18 April is:
“Don’t think of people who hold different opinions as enemies, and the political environment will be more pleasant. Don’t just find ways to shutdown the TV [station] because [you] dislike things that were said.”
Peace TV programme hosts read out the station’s statement against the NBTC blackout order on 1 May 2015 (Photo from Peace TV)
As for the second sentence, the NBTC did not give a direct quote, but mentioned in its order that one of the speakers on the programme talked about the bombing incident in the southern Surat Thani Province and indirectly implied that the incident was carried out by certain political groups and local politicians in order to blame it on the red shirts.
The NBTC blackout order issued to Peace TV stated that the station violated the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcements Nos. 97/2014 and 103/2014.
Announcement No. 97/2014 of the NCPO stipulates that every media outlet is prohibited from criticising the coup-makers and presenting information which contravenes the junta’s measures to maintain national security.
However according to Announcement No. 103/2014, which was issued to amend certain clauses of Announcement 97/2014, ‘honest’ and ‘constructive’ criticism of the junta is allowed, but any information discrediting the coup-makers is still prohibited and people who violate the announcement will be investigated.
Jatuporn Prompan, one of the UDD leaders and executive directors of Peace TV said that the station will take all necessary legal action against the NBTC committee members involved in the decision to shut down the station.