Rangsee to bow out over Russian 'bias'

Rangsee to bow out over Russian 'bias'

Rangsee: Doggedby controversy
Rangsee: Doggedby controversy

Gen Rangsee Kitiyanasap is to step down as managing director of army-run Channel 5 in a move widely believed to be linked to the station's news coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Army commander Gen Narongphan Jitkaewthae, in his capacity as the station's board chairman, reportedly signed an order, effective from April 7, removing Gen Rangsee from the post and appointing Lt Gen Wisanti Srasida, the Army Training Command chief, to succeed him.

His removal came amid reports of heated meetings and orders regarding news coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. On Monday the midday news programme was reportedly cut off before its segment on the current situation in the region.

Gen Rangsee insisted yesterday that he was not sacked but had asked to be relieved from the post for personal reasons. When asked if the station had been barred from airing further coverage of the war, Gen Rangsee said it would be up to media outlets to judge.

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday distanced himself from Gen Rangsee's removal and denied having voiced concerns about Channel 5's position on events.

"There have been talks, so I have to say it has nothing to do with me. It's an internal matter and I'm no longer the army chief. It's up to the station's board to decide," he said.

Gen Prayut said the government's policy is to remain neutral and urged media outlets to be sensitive and provide facts when reporting on the situation.

Channel 5 has, during its time under the management of Gen Rangsee, faced a number of controversies.

Early this year the station teamed up with the pro-government Top News TV team to produce news content.

Recently, station executives met the Russian ambassador to Thailand and signed an agreement to give viewers what they argued would be a more balanced picture of events in contrast with Western media reports.

However, the move was heavily criticised as taking sides and running counter to the government's neutral stance in the conflict. The station tried to deflect criticism and signed a similar cooperation agreement on media coverage with the Ukrainian embassy.

According to a source close to the matter, Gen Rangsee wanted the station's news coverage about the conflict to be balanced, noting a lot of the news on the subject has been reported by the Western media and there has been some fake news.

He met with the Russian ambassador to Thailand and pledged to report news about the conflict in a fair and balanced manner.

He said Channel 5 would check with the Russian embassy to verify facts before going on air and include news from Russian media in its reporting.

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