PM scorned for backing radio as flood information medium

PM scorned for backing radio as flood information medium

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on a flood inspection trip in Khon Kaen province on Tuesday. (Screenshot from Government House video)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on a flood inspection trip in Khon Kaen province on Tuesday. (Screenshot from Government House video)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has suggested that transistor radios may often be the best means of keeping people informed during major flooding, but his remark drew public scorn.

Gen Prayut made the comment during his teleconference on Monday with provincial governors and state agencies on ways of tackling the problem of floods.

He said if electrical and telephone systems went down it would be difficult for the government to spread information to keep the people informed.

In that situation, it might be necessary for people to get their information through transistor radios - as was done during the massive flooding in 2011 whenever the power went off.

He suggested that this could also be applied to the present situation.

It was not clear how the remark leaked, but it quickly drew dismissive public responses. Critics said transistor radios were obsolete.

Prominent lawyer Paisal Phuetmongkol posted on his Facebook page, saying that although he was a man of the ancients, the prime minister's idea was not plausible.

"When I was a child, I liked transistor radios. But, now, in the age of modern technology, I don't even know where to buy one," he wrote.

The owner of a shop that stocked transistor radios in Chai Nat told reporters he sold only one or two a month, 590 baht each or 690 baht with batteries. The buyers were mostly farmers and elderly people.

Vendors at fresh markets, when asked, all said they had not listened to radio for at least 10 years - neither FM nor AM. They got their information mainly on their mobile phones.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri rushed to the prime minister's defence.

Mr Anucha said the radio and television broadcasting policy office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission and the Thammasat Institute of Area Studies surveyed 3,655 radio listeners, 68.9% said they listened to radio programmes using home, pocket and car radios, and the rest listened to radio on their mobile phones or desktop, laptop or notebook computers.

Nearly all respondents, 95.9%, listened on local FM frequencies.

He also cited figures supplied by Nielsen (Thailand), an audience measurement, information and data analysis firm, which showed that as of August 2022 the number of radio listeners in four different age groups were - 3.5 million of Gen X (40-59 years), 3.3 million of Gen Y (20-29), nearly 2 million of Baby Boomer Generation (60-71) and about 800,000 of Gen Z (12-19).

The figures confirmed that radio was still a popular means of communication among people of all generations, Mr Anucha said.

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