Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by a government announcement on 14 May that it will introduce new regulations for community radio stations and cable and satellite TV stations aimed at controlling programme content. Broadcasters would be required to seek permission for each programme being aired, the government said.
“The adoption of these regulations would deal a fatal blow to free expression in Thailand, which is already heavily restricted on the Internet,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The government will have the power to ban programmes that question their policies and legitimacy. We urge the authorities to scrap this plan.”
Sathit Wongnongtoey, the minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, said the regulations would enable the authorities to take action against any broadcaster airing content deemed to undermine democracy. They would be enforced even-handedly with both “red-shirt” (anti-government) and “yellow shirt” (pro-government) broadcasters, Sathit said.
“Once the regulations take effect, any broadcast station airing content deemed to be politically incendiary will not be allowed to operate,” he added.
The communication ministry has been censoring the Internet strictly since January, ridding it of all content that is deemed to be “politically incendiary” or to “attack the king.” Suwicha Thakor, for example, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 3 April on a lese majeste charge for posting content critical of the monarchy online.