The unusual criticism of the rice pledging scheme in Thai Rath over the last week came as a surprise, sparking speculation the newspaper senses a political change in the air.
Thai Rath is the top-selling newspaper in the country with a daily circulation of between 800,000 and one million copies most days and 1.2 million copies on lottery-drawing days. The actual readership is several times larger than the circulation, because each copy is invariably passed on and read by several people.
It is regarded as the giant of the Thai Press and the most influential. Even government leaders cannot afford to ignore it when it makes critical comments. But the mass-circulation newspaper most often toes a government-friendly line, and only occasionally becomes critical. Critics generally brand it pro-government.
Thai Rath has never been regarded as a political newspaper. Political news rarely dominates its front page, which more often splashes stories about crime and movie stars. Its trademark is sensational news.
Political and economic news is usually buried in the inside pages. The paper does devote its entire page three and more space in other pages inside to political comment and news.
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