BBC signal ends as Thai junta refuses contract renewal

The Thai junta has refused to extend a permit for the BBC to run one of its major global transmission stations located in central Thailand.

The BBC World Service has stopped broadcasting programmes from its transmission station located in Nakhon Sawan Province.

The station had been broadcasting uncensored foreign-language news into authoritarian countries such as North Korea and China, and countries which still rely significantly on radio, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Broadcasting ended after the Thai government refused to renew the contract for the station

The BBC tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the Thai authorities to renew the contract for another 20 years after the contract expired on 1 January 2017.

The BBC’s Asia transmission station was relocated to Thailand from Hong Kong in 1997 after the city-state was handed back to People’s Republic of China.

The relationship between the BBC and the Thai junta became sour after BBC Thai published a biography of King Vajiralongkorn in late 2016. The biography was criticised by many Thai royalists as disrespectful to the new Thai monarch.  

Although no BBC staff member has been accused under the notorious Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, over the biography, the Thai authorities on 3 December 2016, arrested Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM), and charged him with lèse majesté for sharing the BBC article.

Despite the fact that more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook, he was the only one arrested for lèse majesté.

As the court has repeatedly denied him bail, Jatuphat is still detained in Khon Kaen Prison.

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