Thailand bans ousted PM’s satellite television


Thursday March 1, 7:38 PM

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s military-appointed government prevented
the launch of a new television station by former members of ousted
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s party, saying it was about to break
the law.

State telecoms firms blocked satellite links and Internet
connections of People’s Television (PTV) because it had not been
granted a licence to broadcast, Public Relations Department chief
Pramoj Rathavinij told Reuters.

“Both CAT Telecom and TOT, which control Thailand’s Internet
gateways, declined to grant PTV Internet access because the television
station has been founded without permission,” Pramoj said.

But the government could not yet press charges against PTV because its owners had not broken the broadcasting law yet, he said.

“They were about to go through the red light, but we could stop them before they broke the law,” Pramoj said.

PTV was founded by leading former members of Thaksin’s Thai Rak
Thai (Thais Love Thais) party, to counter another satellite television,
ASTV, led by Thaksin’s staunch critic Sondhi Limthongkul, PTV founders

Sondhi, whose television programme drew thousands onto Bangkok
streets to protest against Thaksin last year, is fighting a court case
to get permission to operate a television station.

ASTV is broadcasting to people who buy its satellite dish and
is among nearly 20 TV stations with no government licence and PTV’s
founders protest it is unfair not to let them do the same.

“We plan to use the same satellite as ASTV does, so people who
watch ASTV can hear the other side of the story from PTV,” said
producer Jakrapob Penkair, who was Thaksin’s chief government

PTV vice president Jatuporn Prompan denied Thai media reports
that the funding for the business came from the billionaire Thaksin.

“This government is practising a double standard,” said
Jatuporn. PTV would continue to produce politically-oriented talk shows
for audiences at its studio and record them on VCDs for free
distribution nationwide, he said.

Paris-based media watchdog RSF urged the government and the
Council of National Security (CNS), as coup leaders call themselves, to
lift the ban on PTV.

“It is regrettable that the CNS has not begun a policy of media
liberalisation and is repeating the mistakes made by Thaksin, who tried
to suppress dissident media,” Reporters Without Borders said in a

“The public must be guaranteed access to diverse sources of
news and information, regardless of their affiliation or orientation,
so that people can form their own views.”

ABC Money

Thu, 01 Mar 2007 12:38

Thai govt blocks TV station linked to Thaksin

BANGKOK (XFN-ASIA) – A state telecom blocked a new Thai television channel
created by members of deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s political
party from making its first broadcast, the station said.
Telecom did not provide People’s Television with a link to the
satellite that the station had planned to use to carry its signal, PTV
vice chairman Jatuporn Prompan said.

The telecom’s board of directors is headed by General Saprang
Kalayanamitra, one of the most outspoken members of the military junta
that seized power in September.
PTV chairman Veera Musigapong said his station will continue to record program onto VCDs for sale to the public, and the same may be aired
when the link is ready.
‘We will keep moving forward,’ he said.Veera was a senior member of Thai Rak Thai, the political party founded by Thaksin.The military-backed government has threatened to shut down the station, and has barred its reporters from covering the new prime minister’s office.

01 March 2007

Thai Government Blocks Station Linked to Ousted Prime Minister

Thailand’s military-installed government scuttled
the launch of a television station Thursday that is linked to
supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand's People's Television
Thailand’s People’s Television

government’s telecommunications agency blocked People’s Television, or
PTV, from relaying broadcasts through satellite and over the internet.
The government says the station has not yet received permission to

Former leading members of Mr. Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai political
party founded the station in a bid to counter ASTV a station critical
of the former prime minister.

Mr. Thaksin was ousted in a coup last September following widespread
protests and allegations of corruption. The Thai government fears the
exiled politician may be planning to return to power.

PTV executives say they will not give up and plan to distribute recordings of their broadcasts instead.

The ban is the latest attempt by the government to mute any
lingering influence from Mr. Thaksin in Thailand. In early January,
military coup leaders ordered the media to not report on Mr. Thaksin’s
movements or statements.

Thailand has also threatened to take control of a telecommunications
company sold by members of Mr. Thaksin’s family to Singapore in January
2006. The sale of Shin Corporation, which controls all satellite
broadcasts to Thailand, outraged many Thais and led to months of street

1 March 2007

Interim government urged not to repeat Thaksin’s faults with two TV stations

Reporters Without Borders today called on Thailand’s military-installed
interim government, the Council for National Security (CNS), and in
particular Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, not to repeat the errors
of the past by trying to censor the media and above all control TV

The press freedom organisation said it hoped the CNS would not censor People’s Television (PTV),
a satellite station linked to deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
due to start broadcasting today from Hong Kong, and that the
privately-owned television station iTV would be able to recover its independence and not be placed under state control.

“The military who took power on 19
September rejected Thaksin’s policies,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“So it is regrettable that the CNS has not begun a policy of media
liberalisation and is repeating the mistakes made by Thaksin, who tried
to suppress dissident media. The public must be guaranteed access to
diverse sources of news and information, regardless of their
affiliation or orientation, so that people can form their own views.”

Affiliated to Thai Rak Thai, a party linked to Thaksin, PTV
was due to begin round-the-clock satellite broadcasting from Hong Kong
today, but the CNS has vowed to prevent the launch from day one and
accuses PTV of not obtaining a government licence.
It has appointed a special team of lawyers to block the launch and is
threatening to prosecute PTV’s promoters.

A source close to the CNS said the
government fears that this new TV station would foment divisions in
Thailand and that it would harder to stop it once broadcasting had got
under way. Thirapat Serirangsan, who is minister of the Prime
Minister’s office, said Thaksin allowed the media to mushroom, which in
the new government’s view was a mistake to be avoided.

Some 300 radio stations and websites have been censored since the military takeover. All the media have also been asked to “cooperate” with the new government and not behave in a “dissident” manner that could foster “general confusion” harmful for the public.

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the lawsuits that have been brought against iTV, and a demand for the payment of a record 100.45 billion baht (2.25
billion euros) in unpaid concession fees and fines. Thailand’s first independent television station, iTV obtained a 30-year concession when it was created in 1995. It was noted for its free and independent editorial policies, which were protected by the fact that no shareholder could control more than 10 per cent of the company.

All that changed in 1997 when Shin Corporation – then owned by Thaksin, who had not yet become prime minister – took advantage of the fact that iTV was on the verge of bankruptcy to acquire a controlling, 53-per cent stake. Thereafter iTV began to lose its independence and investigative journalism was replaced by entertainment.

In 2004, when Thaksin was prime minister, an arbitration panel cut iTV’s annual concession fees from 1 billion to 230 million baht and said it could broadcast more entertainment programmes – all of which was clearly very beneficial to the Thaksin family-owned Shin Corporation. Prior to the military takeover, Shin Corporation and iTV were sold to Temasek Holdings, a Singaporean financial group.

The CNS repudiated the arbitration panel’s ruling and sued iTV for failing to pay the full concession fees since 1 April 2004. As a result, a court ordered the station to pay 100.45 billion baht in accumulated concession fees and fines by 6 March and the CNS has announced that iTV will be transferred to state control if it has not paid by the deadline.

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