Leading media organisations throughout the country have joined hands against a controversial media licensing bill that will give the government greater control over the media.
On 29 January 2017, representatives of 30 media organisations nationwide issued a joint statement against the controversial Media Reform Bill.
Citing the media as a factor in many social problems, the bill outlines moral standards for all forms of media with penalties for non-compliance.
If passed, the reforms will set up a National Council of Media Professions (NCMP) to ensure the industry acts in accordance with the regulations set out under the bill. Without a media license from the NCMP, organisations will not be able to operate.
The bill also sets up a committee to monitor all kinds of media to make sure that they adhere to vaguely defined ‘media ethics’ and do not present news content that violates ‘public morals’.
The bill was proposed by the junta’s National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA). The latest version of the bill was published on 13 January 2017 after getting the green light from the cabinet in early 2016. It was later sent to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for further consideration.
According to iLaw, a human rights advocacy group, the licensing system set up by the bill gives the state many opportunities to intervene in the work of the media.
“The bill is not based on the principle of protecting the media profession’s freedom, but on principles of controlling the media and allowing state authorities to intervene in the work of the media,” the joint statement concluded.
The group urges the NLA and NRSA to halt the process of passing the bill.
The media organisations who took part in the statement include the Thai Journalists Association, the National Press Council, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, the Online News Providers Association, Thailand’s Cable TV Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, the Environmental Journalists Association and the Network of Isaan Newspaper Editors.
Representatives of the 30 media organisations opposing the NRSA's Media Reform Bill on 30 January 2017