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Thai journalists denounce media regulation bill

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South East Asia Journalist Unions (SEAJU) join the National Union of Journalist of Thailand (NUJT) in denouncing the draft media regulation bill that will further suppress media in already challenging environment. The IFJ and SEAJU call for the bill to be scrapped immediately.

On Thursday, February 2, the Media Regulation Bill is scheduled to be presented to Thailand's National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) on Thursday, February 2, 2017 for further deliberations. If approved, the draft will be forwarded to the parliament for approval. Under the draft bill, the military government will establish the Media Professional Council, which will include four permanent secretaries from four ministries, including the Office of the Prime Minister, Finance Culture and the Digital Economy and Society, along with members of the press. The Council will be tasked with the important role of media regulators, including drafting a course all reporters and media professionals would have to attend in order to earn a license, issuing and revoking licenses. 

On Sunday, January 29, 30 media organisations including the NUJT and Thai Journalists Association (TJA) issued a joint statement denouncing the bill, stating that the bill would restrict press freedom rather than protect it, opening way for the state authority to interfere with the media affairs through the so-called professional media council. The joint statement also said that the bill would limit the public’s freedom of expression and access to information. The media organisations called on the NRSA to drop the bill.

SEAJU said: “We stand with TJA, NUJT and our Thai colleagues in calling on the National Reform Steering Committee not to put forward the bill. Immediate steps need to be taken to guarantee press freedom in Thailand, and to protect strengthen, not control, the local media community."

The IFJ said: “The draft Media Regulation Bill is a clear attempt by the Thai military junta to control the media. We stand with our colleagues and join the calls for the bill to be scrapped. Thai’s media continue to face an increasingly challenging environment to work in, and legislation such as this only work to further weaken the country’s media.” 

Representatives of 30 media organisations opposing the NRSA's Media Reform Bill on 30 January 2017

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