4 January 2001
BANGKOK — Journalists working for the Independent Television Station (iTV), a private-run television station based in Bangkok, protested on Wednesday, 3 Janauary 2000, against the editorial intrusion by the station’s chief executive.
In a press release, the journalists alleged that the executive, who was from Shin Corps, a telecommunication firm that holds a stake in iTV, tried to ban any critical reporting on Thaksin Shinawatra, leader of Thai Rak Thai party who is also the founder of Shin Corp. They said that the attempt to influence iTV’s editorial policy included pressures on reporters who refused to cooperate.
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), which is a regional press organization representing independent press associations in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, views such action by the iTV executives as a violation of the press freedom. It also violates Article 41 of the 1997 Constitution of Thailand. The Constitution guarantees the rights of journalists in media organizations to be independent from influences from owners, whether they are private or government- run as long as they follow the journalism Code of Ethics.
SEAPA urges iTV executives to respect press freedom and the Constitution by halting all attempts immediately to interfere with the station’s editorial policy. SEAPA believes that the unfettered flow of news and information, especially during the political campaign, would strengthen the democratic process and increase public awareness on important issues affecting their lives.
SEAPA will work with member organizations including the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) to ensure that broadcast media enjoys editorial independence and be open to a diversity of viewpoints.