Originally published on the TJA website on 28 March 2017
The Thai Journalists Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association
Request for the National Broadcasting Commission to revoke its order to suspend for seven days the digital broadcasting license of Voice TV
The Thai Journalists Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association oppose the resolution of the National Broadcasting Commission to suspend the licence of Voice TV for seven days, starting March 28.
The suspension affects the organisation both as a media agency and as a business. Many staff will be affected even though they were not responsible for the content cited as problematic by the commission.
The National Broadcasting Commission, as part of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), is in charge of licensing and regulation broadcast media operators. Unless that authority is exercised with caution, the committee risks undermining both media freedom and businesses.
The NBTC’s task is to prevent outside interference in the workings of the media. Its decision following criticism of four Voice TV programmes should be regarded as an external influence interfering in the work of NBTC itself. The credibility and independence of the NBTC and Thai media have been adversely affected.
The National Broadcasting Commission’s resolution is also contrary to various Thai constitutions, including those of 1997 and 2007, as well as the draft constitution approved by national referendum last year, which protects media professionals and their right to freedom of expression. Closure of a newspaper or any media is prohibited, as is pre-publication censorship. The suspension order is therefore a violation of the people’s rights to freedom of expression and to information. Media professionals who are not involved in the present issue should be allowed to continue working as normal.
The National Broadcasting Commission’s order to suspend broadcasts by Voice TV cited repeated violation of orders 97/2014 and 103/2014 issued by the National Council for Peace and Order. It also cited complaints against specific programmes: Bai Tong Haeng, aired on March 15 covering Wat Phra Dhammakaya Temple; In Her View, aired on March 20 covering the network of Kotee, a Red Shirt leader, and possession of war weapons; Voice Over, aired on March 20 covering the apparent extrajudicial killing of ethnic activist Chiyaphum Pasae.
Victims of any violation by the media of their rights can always file criminal or civil lawsuits against those responsible. Readers and viewers can then decide themselves whether or not to support the media.
The Thai Journalists Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association call on the National Broadcasting Commission to revoke the order to suspend the licence of Voice TV, which prevents broadcasts by the station as a whole.
The Thai Journalists Association
The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association
March 28, 2017