Democrat Party actions to control the media

23 07 2009

Prachatai (23 July 2009: “‘Very confidential’ letter instructs government to deal with red radio, websites and cable TV”) reports more Democrat Party-led pressure to limit red shirt media.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoei, who has a record of opposing media freedom, is reported to have sent a confidential letter instructing the “blacklisting websites, community radio stations and cable TV stations.” The sites and stations were all “subversive and inflammatory.”

It seems that Sathit had assigned “a special task force which includes Special Branch police … to monitor the contents of these outlets,” and that it was “found that these outlets have been inciting the public against the government and democracy as well as the Monarchy on an almost daily basis.” Apparently the offending outlets even have songs that attack the “government and the elite…”.

Sathit’s media spies have compiled a report and sent it to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, and Abhisit, Suthep and Sathit are “reportedly coordinating with the police, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the task force to make arrests.”

The Prachatai report lists the cable TV station, some of the community radio stations and the websites involved. Not surprisingly, they are all associated with the UDD and red shirts.

In the same report, Sathit is said to have commented on the broader issue of the registration of community radio station operators, with some 4,000 having signed up. Apparently, not all operators have signed up. Sathit claims: “It has been checked and found that community radio operators who have not registered are mostly those who serve political interests.” He complains that not enough is being done to close these stations, but expects that the process can begin in about 2 weeks.

He claims that “non-conforming community radio stations would be immediately closed, especially the dozens of stations which served political interests.” Stations are “not [permitted] to air content subversive to Thai institutions and the government.” Sathit said that closing these stations, run by “bad people” was “necessary to maintain order.”

PPT assumes that “Thai institutions” means the monarchy and probably now includes the privy council.

We recall the huge outcry that rightly criticized then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s efforts to limit media freedom. Where are those critics now?



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