Red-shirt TV slapped with 30-day closure order

Red-shirt TV slapped with 30-day closure order

A policeman walks outside the office of Peace TV at Imperial Lat Phrao department store in this June 19, 2016 file photo. The NBTC on Monday ordered the station closed for 30 days, prompting immediate and strong resistance from the red-shirt leaders. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
A policeman walks outside the office of Peace TV at Imperial Lat Phrao department store in this June 19, 2016 file photo. The NBTC on Monday ordered the station closed for 30 days, prompting immediate and strong resistance from the red-shirt leaders. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has ordered the closure of the red shirt-affiliated Peace TV for 30 days, effective on July 10 for airing content in breach of the broadcasting law and the junta's orders, an NBTC source says.

The decision was made at a meeting of the NBTC's broadcasting committee on Monday, the source said. 

The order came after an NBTC subcommittee ruled last month three programmes on Peace TV had broadcast content that violated the National Council for Peace and Order's orders No. 97 and No. 103, as well as Section 37 of the Broadcasting and Television Business Operations Act.

The panel also said Peace Television Co Ltd, the station's operator, breached the conditions regarding broadcast content made between them months after the May 2014 coup.

The programmes were Kao Jai Trong Kan Na, a political talk show and interview programme hosted by red-shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikuar, and two news programmes -- Kem Kao Duek and Hong Kao Lao Ruang Kam.  The programmes broadcast illegal content between March 11 and 28, the panel said. 

The regime's orders No. 97 and No. 103 ban criticism of the NCPO and content deemed instigating conflicts or causing divisions within society. The directives are widely seen as the regime's tools to restrict basic rights and freedom of the press and limit people's rights to information.

Section 37 of the Broadcasting Act bars content that seeks to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, threatens national security or morality, constitutes profanity or harms people's mental or physical health. It allows the regulator to halt or revoke the licences of the broadcasters. 

But leaders of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on Monday said the 30-day closure order infringed the Administrative Court's authority and wanted the regulator to review the order.

The NBTC permanently revoked the red-shirt station's licence on April 30 last year, saying it had repeatedly breached licensing terms and the junta's orders on broadcasting. 

Peace Television Co petitioned the Administrative Court against the decision and won an injunction from the court three months later.

The regulator then appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court which has yet to rule on the case. 

UDD co-leader Weng Tojirakarn said the NBTC had no authority to close Peace TV as the matter was pending the court's decision. Dr Weng led the station's executives and hosts of the three programmes in question to the NBTC office in the morning to submit a letter opposing the temporary closure.

"The programmes did not breach any regulations as claimed by the NBTC. This is mudslinging and more of an imagination," Mr Weng said.

UDD chairman Jatuporn Prompan urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as the NCPO's chief, to review the move and not to let the NBTC abuse its power.        

Mr Nattawut, also the UDD's secretary-general, said the closure was the NCPO's attempt to silence the opponents of the draft constitution before the Aug 7 referendum.

Deputy NCPO chief Prawit Wongsuwon said the closure of Peace TV was the NBTC's matter and the NCPO had nothing to do with it.

However, Gen Prawit, who is also a deputy prime minister, said the order could not have been made if the station had not breached the regulations.


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