5 March 2002
Source: Bangkok Post
The government has ordered the Nation Multimedia Group to cease its radio programmes starting today.
Sources said Gen Akkaradej Sasiprapa, adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, directed the armed forces to scrap Nation programming on the 90.5MHz station.
Smart Bomb, which holds the concession for the radio frequency, was also told to cancel Nation’s radio programmes.
The Mass Communications Organisation of Thailand has also notified cable television operator UBC to enforce the current prohibition on television ads, particularly for programmes run on channel UBC 8, or Nation TV.
Sources said the order stemmed from a programme broadcast last week featuring an interview with Sqn-Ldr Prasong Soonsiri, a leading critic of the Thaksin Shinawatra government.
The programme, run both on 90.5MHz and UBC 8, featured an interview by Nation journalists Sorayuth Suthassa-nachinda and Kanok Ratwongsakul.
In the interview, Sqn-Ldr Prasong blasted the prime minister’s handling of a blow-up relating to an article run by the Far Eastern Economic Review magazine earlier in the year as damaging for the country’s international reputation.
While the programme was not aired on UBC 8 due to a “technical problem”, the interview was carried on 90.5MHz.
Smart Bomb executives confirmed they had been directed to remove Nation programmes from the radio channel, affecting around 6-7 hours of daily programming.
“We’ve had to scramble to see what we can do to fill the airtime, and have asked our other producers to extend their own programmes to compensate,” one senior executive said.
Nation executives expressed confusion about the government clampdown, saying they were trying to seek clarification from authorities about the situation.
“We’re trying to clarify what is going on, and to find out what the government thinks that we did wrong,” one senior Nation executive said.
“The radio station mostly runs economic news programmes. Only in the morning do we have a programme linked with Nation TV,” said the executive.