Court revokes punishment against Thai PBS for monarchy debates

The Administrative Court has nullified an order that fined Thai PBS for broadcasting political talks about the Thai monarchy. 
 
On 15 February 2018, the Administrative Court ruled to invalidate a fine of 50,000 baht imposed by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Thai PBS for broadcasting political discussions about the Thai monarchy. 
 
The court ruled that bias on the part of Lt Gen Peerapong Manakit, one of the NBTC members who proposed the punishment, led to an unfair trial. The court ordered the Commission to refund the fine to Thai PBS. 
 
However, the verdict does not rule whether the show’s content was legal or not.
 
This lawsuit relates to the TV programme “Tob Jot” broadcast in March 2013. The programme streamed five episodes of political talks under the theme “constitutional monarchy”. The most controversial episode was a debate between the moderate royalist Sulak Sivarak and Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a historian and critic of the monarchy who is now living in exile in France.
 
After the show was aired, several outraged royalists gathered at the Thai PBS station, demanding the channel withdraw the show and its host, Pinyo Traisuriyathamma. In response, Thai PBS initially postponed broadcasting the last programme in the series but eventually decided to air it.
 
In July 2014, the NBTC imposed a fine on Thai PBS for violating Article 37 of the NBTC Act. The Commission accused the station of publishing content that instigated conflict, damaged peace and order, or damaged the good morality of the people.  
 
 
The debate between Sulak and Somsak