NBTC panel to probe soap ban

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has assigned a sub-panel to further investigate the controversial ban on the soap opera Nua Mek 2.

The move has disappointed several groups who wanted the regulator to instead take immediate action against TV Channel 3, which abruptly took the soap opera off air on Friday. Critics believe the decision to pull the show was a result of political interference.

NBTC commissioner Supinya Klangnarong raised the issue at an NBTC meeting yesterday as an urgent point of discussion.

The commission;s vice chairman, Natee Sukonrat, defended the decision to appoint the sub-panel investigation, saying the NBTC needs "thorough information".

However, the Thai Constitution Protection Association, who have opposed the show;s ban, said it will give the NBTC one week to make public what actions it will take after it receives the group;s petition today.

The group wants the NBTC to order Channel 3 to resume the broadcast of the series and wants the government to revoke the broadcast concession granted to Channel 3 if the station is found guilty of infringing on people;s rights and freedoms, association secretary-general Srisuwan Janya said.

"If the NBTC gives no answer in seven days, the association will petition the Administrative Court," he said.

Col Natee said the NBTC wants people to understand that the ban was self-censorship by Channel 3 and the NBTC could not interfere.

"We cannot follow the current of public feelings in all issues because this work requires careful consideration," he said.

Nua Mek 2 (Beyond the Cloud, or Beyond Comparison) tells the story of the conflict between police and a sorcerer amid political violence.

The series depicts the rise to power of a crooked politician involved in a dubious satellite project.

Yesterday, Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, together with the NBTC, the National Human Rights Commission and the National Anti-Corruption Commission, to look into whether there were any irregularities in the ban.

Ms Yingluck declined to comment on the issue, telling reporters she knew nothing about the abrupt cancellation of the series.

Meanwhile, the Channel 3 website was hacked yesterday evening by a soap opera fan who posted the message "Where is my Nua Mek 2?" across the homepage.

The website was broken into about 5pm, and went offline several minutes later. The website was then restored with its original content.

Unlimited Hack Team claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack on their Facebook page.

The NBTC meeting yesterday also resolved that the Muay Thai Warriors event in Macau televised on Channel 11, in which deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra made a public address, did not violate any broadcasting law, Col Natee said.

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