Company airing Voice TV programme fined for reporting on protest

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) ordered the MVTV company to pay a fine of 50,000 baht for airing Voice TV’s “Voice Go” programme, claiming that the content of the programme affects national security.

 

The minutes of a meeting published on the NBTC website stated that the Commission voted to fine MVTV for broadcasting Voice TV’s “Voice Go” programme on one of their Video to Home channels, which was broadcast on the PSI satellite network on 27 April.

The programme was a report on the protest in front of the Supreme Court, in which a group of student activists from Thammasat University occupied an area on the footpath to demand the release of student activists then under detention. The programme also featured interviews with protesters on the reasons for their activities.

The NBTC report stated that the content of the programme affected national security, peace, and public morals. A majority of commissioners voted for the company to be fined.

The report stated that the commissioners who voted to fine MVTV are Gen Sukit Kamasunthorn, Col Natee Sukonrat, Lt Gen Perapong Manakit, Prasert Silphiphat, and Thawatchai Jittrapanun.

The report also recorded that Prawit Leesatapornwongsa, one of the commissioners who did not vote to fine MVTV, withheld his opinion as he believes that the programme was a report of a situation, and since the reporters featured in the programme did not give their own opinion, the reporting was done in good faith.  

Prawit also said that the messages broadcast in the programme, such as “The judges should uphold the principles of human rights, uphold the principles of justice, and uphold the principles of the law and not follow orders” and “The court should care about the people” are demands and not accusations.

He said that the NBTC did not investigate whether a contempt of court charge has been filed against the protesters, since if this is not the case, it would not be appropriate for the NBTC to make its own judgement and they should only issue a warning.

Prawit also asked whether the NBTC has investigated other channels reporting the same event to see if they reported the same messages, so that the NBTC’s action would not be discriminatory, as there was no complaint about MVTV and the investigation was initiated by the NBTC itself.

Meanwhile, Sirote Klampaiboon, host of Voice TV’s “Overview” programme, posted on his Facebook page that Voice TV is again at risk of suspension, as the Video to Home channel 9 was accused of airing over 6 minutes of advertisements in an hour, and if they are found to have aired excessive advertisements again, PSI, which provides the satellite network, will be asked to suspend the channel.

The NBTC meeting minutes also state that the channel was found to have aired more than 6 minutes of advertisements per hour, and the commissioners agreed to issue a warning to MVTV, and that if they violate the warning, they will be fined 1,000,000 baht and 50,000 baht per day.

The NBTC also issued a letter to PSI to monitor the channel, and if they continue to air advertisements over the time limit, the NBTC will order PSI to suspend the channel.

However, the report stated that the NBTC also fined MVTV for airing advertisements for rice bran oil and red rice food supplements, and for instant coffee, which the NBTC ruled to be taking advantage of the audience. The company was fined 500,000 baht, and a warning was issued to PSI as the network provider to suspend the broadcast and to monitor the channel to make sure they do not air the advertisements again. If the channel is found to repeat the offense, PSI will also be fined 50,000 baht per day.

The NBTC also issued warning to Leo Technology and Marketing company, network provider for MVTV’s Video to Home Channel 4, after the channel was found airing advertisements for health products. The company was warned to monitor the channel so that they do not air such advertisements again, and the NBTC will order the company to suspend the channel if they are found to repeat the offense.

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