An open letter to backers of media regulation

As media consumers we must be aware! The mainstream media has begun transformation; they are now entering into new digital platforms and satellite television.

The repercussions of this development could prove to be horrendous. It is highly possible that content providers will start to deliver messages of evil to the public, causing wide spread panic and possibly even death.

Earlier this week the president of the Thailand Development Research Institute, Somkiat Tangkijvanich, said that because of recent developments such as the internet, media outlets could be left vulnerable to outside interference.

Mr Somkiat was also highly critical of satellite TV saying "What is most worrying is that launching a satellite TV channel requires low levels of capital so they come up like mushrooms. There is no competition among them as they do not care about viewership, and they can produce content that is controversial and radical."

This is truly dire news indeed. Content providers no longer care about viewership or their audience. All they want to do is spread vile political messages to a nation of sheeple!

Without doubt this is what will happen. Those with a political agenda will take control of the airwaves and the public will become brainwashed by their messages, unable to think for themselves or even change the channel.

Can you imagine what kind of country we would be living in if the government or even the army had their own television channels that they controlled with an iron fist and that were available on television sets 24 hours a day?

I dare not imagine.

If only there were a way whereby regular people with no agenda other than to provide entertaining content or say things that do not toe the party line could make their voices heard!

If such an option was available then maybe we, the public, could learn to differentiate between the various forms of content available and make informed decisions on what messages we choose to take on board and which messages we choose to ignore. We would be better able to understand the various media tricks that are employed to make viewers react in certain ways. How cropping and editing is used to frame opinion. How biased content picks and chooses what audio bites to play or which quotes to publish.

We would better understand all this because repeated exposure to opposing views would train our minds to be more sceptical of what we are told is "the truth".

But alas we have only the internet and low-operating-cost satellite TV at our disposal! Things that the TDRI believes need better regulation.

Obviously this matter needs addressing before we can come up with alternatives that provide a more balanced playing field for freedom of speech.

Who cares if regulating new media and stopping one or two channels out of 200 means that discriminating against one show means discriminating against all shows? Thailand is in dire need of more censorship so this is clearly the way to go.

Monitoring new media is important, we must strive to make it as open, balanced and corrupt free as free-to-air television. There must be no political interference, no dodgy advertising deals and a wide variety of content.

If I may I would like to suggest an idea that may help. First, what we should do is limit access to the internet and satellite television. We should not trust in the ability of our people to understand what biased content is. They are idiots and will only get confused.

We should also focus all our monitoring efforts on political bias because this is something that can easily be wiped out. Much like how the West has managed to do with media outlets such as Fox News and The Daily Mail.

For now we should also probably ignore the regulation of social issues such as rape in drama series or the portrayal and representation of the LGBT and migrant worker communities.

If we do these things then I am certain that we will be helping lead society towards gaining a better understanding of itself. That our regulations will allow our hand-selected media to provide detailed and unbiased investigative reports and highly informed content. That regulation will not be open to any form of misinterpretation and abuse by those in power. And most importantly, Thailand will be a better place not only for its people, but also in the eyes of the rest of the world too.

Arglit Boonyai is Digital Media Editor, Bangkok Post.

About the author

Writer: Arglit Boonyai
Position: Multimedia Editor