Thailand: PeaceTV suspension shows NBTC’s tremendous powers

STATEMENT

 

SEAPA condemns the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s (NBTC) order to suspend PeaceTV for 30 days for airing “content dealing with plots to undermine the constitutional monarchy.”

We see the suspension order as too severe, given that the NBTC has identified specific programming on specific dates that it deemed violating Thailand broadcasting laws. The order punishes the entire station including all programs regardless of content, and all personnel regardless of role.

The suspension order illustrates the broad new powers of the broadcasting regulator under the amended law enacted in March 2017. Previous NBTC orders were in connection with violations of orders of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) restricting certain content on all media.

Such broad and sweeping powers, especially under a regular law must be used with restraint and proportionality, considering that it can set precedents to be used to potentially infringe on freedom of the press and the public’s right to know and hear all sides of the political discourse in Thai society.

This is the third time PeaceTV was suspended by the NBTC, with previous suspensions of the station’s broadcasting license taking place in April 2015 and June 2016.