Press associations oppose broadcast ban on red-shirt TV

Two major journalist organisations have condemned the recent order to suspend for 30 days the broadcasting licence of a TV station run by red-shirt leaders.
On 11 May 2018, the Thai Journalists Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association released a joint statement denouncing the order by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to suspend the broadcast licence of Peace TV for 30 days.
Citing National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Orders 97/2014 and 103/2014, the NBTC imposed the month-long suspension on Peace TV starting on 9 May. The commission claimed that between 26 March and 9 April, the station broadcast four shows with allegedly seditious content and tried to incite national conflict.
But the press associations stated that the NBTC’s order constitutes suppression of press freedom and violates the 2017 Constitution’s sections on freedom of information, and urged the Commission to revoke the suspension. They suggested that the NBTC ban only the allegedly seditious programmes rather than the whole station, since the suspension will largely affect other staff who have no involvement with the problematic shows.
“The fact that the NBTC cited NCPO orders 97/2014 and 103/2014 is equivalent to the NBTC allowing an outside authority to directly destroy the independence of the NBTC itself, and it could also affect media organisations under the supervision of the NBTC,” read the statement.
Peace TV station is run by leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, also known as the ‘red shirts’, and this is the fifth broadcasting ban imposed on the channel under the junta. The first seven-day ban was in April 2015, followed by a 30-day ban in July 2016, a month-long ban in August 2017, and a 15-day ban in February 2018. All were related to allegedly seditious content and criticism of the ruling junta.
The logos of the Thai Journalists Association (left) and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (right)