Firm ends news supply to army TV

Firm ends news supply to army TV

The Top News Digital Media Company will no longer supply news to the army's Channel 5, citing ideological differences linked to the channel's coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham, founder of the company managing Top News television channel, said the company was hired by Galaxy Multimedia Corporation (GMC) which is contracted to supply news for Channel 5.

"With the incident on Monday, we have informed GMC that we want to stop supplying news programmes to them. GMC then knew that they could not find advertisers without our news programmes so they terminated the contract with Channel 5," Mr Sonthiyan said.

The incident Mr Sonthiyan was referring to occurred during the army-run station's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Monday. The programme was interrupted and cut mid-air.

On Thursday, the army's public relations centre issued a statement apologising to Channel 5 viewers for the broadcast disruption, blaming it on technical problems.

The statement also said an army panel had "discussed and formulated a balanced practice [for the channel] in its role as a public media outlet that is useful to society. The panel had also instructed the station to be more careful in broadcasting and communicating news".

The statement added that Channel 5 "will continue to maintain its role [in promoting] national security and public safety, by presenting news that is useful to the public, and will stand side by side with the people in all situations".

The statement did not mention that the technical problems took place during the Ukraine war coverage.

Mr Sonthiyan dismissed rumours that the programme was cut off under orders from the premier or the foreign minister because they did not want to upset the United States.

On Monday, Channel 5's president Gen Rangsee Kitiyanasap tendered his resignation after the incident. This occurred amid reports of meetings between army officials and the news provider and requests relating to local media's coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to earlier reports, Gen Rangsee met the Russian ambassador to Thailand and signed an agreement about the channel's news coverage of the war.

He said he intended to ensure more balanced news, in comparison with reports by Western media. This led to criticism of the neutrality of the channel. Gen Rangsee later promised the Ukrainian ambassador to Thailand that news coverage would be neutral.

A source said on Tuesday that army commander-in-chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae had ordered that Gen Rangsee be replaced by Lt Gen Wisanti Sasrida, director of the Army Training Command, effective April 7.

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