Prayut blasts media over 'live suicide'

Prayut blasts media over 'live suicide'

NBTC summons five television stations

Police and the media are at the scene after lecturer Wanchai Danaitamonut shot himself. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Police and the media are at the scene after lecturer Wanchai Danaitamonut shot himself. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has criticised the media for its coverage of the police's standoff with a murder suspect, which ended when the university lecturer shot himself.

Gen Prayut's criticism came as the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said it planned to summon the management of five TV stations for questioning over the live broadcast of the marathon police negotiations.

The negotiations ended when Wanchai Danaitamonut, a suspect in Wednesday's double-murder at a Bangkok university, shot himself. Several TV stations covered the standoff live, but none broadcast the shooting.

"What's the use of televising such a violent scene?" Gen Prayut said.

"Was the practice something [the media thinks] was admirable? How many times do I have to beg you not to show public images or footage containing violent scenes?"

The visibly distressed Wanchai, 60, was suspected of shooting fellow lecturers Pichai Chaisongkram, 56, and Natthapol Chumworathayee, 54, in an examination room at Phranakhon Rajabhat University in Bangkok on Wednesday morning.

A graduate student told police he witnessed the shooting, and said Wanchai fled the scene.

A manhunt for Wanchai led to Thursday's tense standoff at a Bangkok hotel lasted almost six hours. During the negotiations, trusted friends, relatives and police officials pleaded with him to surrender.

Supinya Klangnarong, an NBTC member, said the NBTC had instructed all television stations to be mindful of their live broadcast of the negotiations and they should at least censor images that might disturb or stir unrest.

She posted on Facebook on Saturday that the NBTC would ask Thai Rath TV, Nation TV, TNN 24, Spring News and T News, which ran live broadcasts of Thursday's incident, to explain their actions tomorrow.

Such broadcasts could be deemed a breach of guidelines, for which some TV stations have been punished in the past, said Ms Supinya.

The NBTC publicly issued a caution on Thursday during the controversial live broadcast that said protracted coverage of a sensitive incident could be regarded as an act that undermines law and order.

It said this is prohibited under Section 37 of the broadcasting law, and that offenders risked legal action. The broadcast raised questions around media ethics and possibly breached the law, the NBTC said.

Two separate police stations are investigating the incident. Pol Maj Gen Charoen Srisasalak, commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau's Division 2, said Bang Khen police were handling the murder of the two lecturers, while Bang Sue police were investigating Thursday's attempted capture of Wanchai.

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