Thai TV station to launch in defiance of military

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Web posted at: 2/26/2007 3:39:38

Source ::: AFP

BANGKOK • A television station founded by members of ousted Thai premier’s
Thaksin Shinawatra’s political party is preparing to launch in defiance
of Thailand’s military-installed government, its chairman said
yesterday.


The new 24-hour satellite channel People’s Television, or PTV, was unveiled
last week “to educate the Thai people about what is going on in
politics and the economy,” its founder and chairman Veera Musigapong
said.


However, rumours soon began to swirl that the station was set up to discredit
the ruling junta and was being covertly funded by Thaksin, who was
ousted in a military coup last October.


The Office of the Prime Minister swiftly stepped in and said the channel
would be operating without a licence and could be shut down, the
Bangkok Post newspaper reported last week.


But a defiant PTV said it would start broadcasting as planned on Thursday.


“We will launch the satellite TV channel as planned despite (the Office of
the Prime Minister) threatening to take action against us,” PTV founder
and chairman Veera Musigapong said.


Veera was a senior board member of Thai Rak Thai, the political party Thaksin
founded and led up until his ouster last year. Thaksin has remained in
exile since the coup, periodically giving interviews to cvarious media
outlets.


Veera quit from the Thai Rak Thai board last week, and set up PTV with former
Thai Rak Thai deputy spokesman Jatuporn Phromphan, who also resigned as
a board member last week.


However, both men are still members of the twice-elected political party. Some
of the station’s hosts are also connected to the party and include Thai
Rak Thai lawyer Thana Benjathikul.


“There is no financial backup from Thaksin,” Veera insisted Sunday. “We will
speak on behalf of the public, not for the benefit of a certain group
of people, including the Thai Rak Thai party.”


The station would, however, debate statements and policies of the junta and the civilian government it installed, Veera said.


“We are not trying to attack the interim government or the junta … we
don’t want to see the general election delayed or any other
interruption to politics,” he said.


“If they want to stop us from launching the programme, they must do the same thing with other satellite channels,” he added.


A variety of censorship orders were issued after Thaksin was ousted in
September, including a threat by the junta last month to shut down
broadcasters who carried statements by the deposed leader.

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