Wat Dhammakaya’s TV channel to be ordered off air

Wat Dhammakaya’s TV channel to be ordered off air

An aerial view shows the two UFO-like domes which dominate the vast expanse of the Dhammakaya temple grounds in Pathum Thani. (Bangkok Post file photo)
An aerial view shows the two UFO-like domes which dominate the vast expanse of the Dhammakaya temple grounds in Pathum Thani. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The national telecom regulator has decided to order Wat Dhammakaya’s TV station off air for 15 days.

DMC TV logo

The decision was made at a meeting of a broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) on Wednesday. 

Committee member Tawatchai Jittapanan said the panel agreed the temple's 24-hour satellite TV channel,  DMC, should temporarily cease broadcasting, acting on a request fied by the Department of Special Investigation. 

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith endorsed the order suspending DMC’s broadcast but declined to comment, saying the matter was sensitive.

Just when DMC will go “black screen’ was not known. The NBTC board would provide more details later, Mr Takorn said. 

Wat Dhammakaya's public relations office on Wednesday afternoon denied its satellite TV station had  provoking followers and caused social disorder. 

The office said in a statement that the DSI's allegation was groundless and damaged the DMC's reputation. The station, since its inception in 2002, had received numerous awards for its content promoting Buddhism and peace, including one from the late Supreme Patriarch. 

The temple was preparing a protest against the NBTC's off-air order, the statement said.

The move comes after the Royal Thai Police Office said it had about 1,000 men ready to support a raid on the temple in Pathum Thani and arrest its embattled abbot Phra Dhammajayo, after he failed to report to authorities by last week's deadline. 

A date to apprehend the monk has not been announced, although police have promised to get him within three months.

Phra Dhammajayo is wanted on three arrest warrants. They are for alleged forest encroachment by a large meditation centre owned by the temple in Nakhon Ratchasima province, for alleged forest encroachment by the temple's meditation centre in Loei province, and for alleged laundering of money and receiving stolen property in connection with the huge Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative embezzlement case. 

DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang said it was requested the station be ordered off air because disciples of the wanted monk used DMC TV to encourage Dhammakaya followers to show up for merit-making and meditation activities when DSI officials made their first search for the abbot at the temple complex. 

The large crowd filled the grounds at the temple and blocked the entrance.

“This action obstructs authorities performing their job. The temple’s main halls can accommodate tens of thousands of people,” Pol Col Paisit said. 

“We’ve assessed the situation. If DMC invites people to make merit there again it would disrupt officials in the execution of their duty. This also involves a security issue.”

Representatives of the National Office of Buddhism had failed in their latest attempt persuade  Phra Dhammajayo to surrender, the DSI chief added.

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