NBTC orders 30-day blackout for Peace TV

NBTC orders 30-day blackout for Peace TV

People watch a programme featuring red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan on Peace TV on July 11, 2016. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
People watch a programme featuring red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan on Peace TV on July 11, 2016. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission on Thursday slapped an order to shut down Peace TV for 30 days for airing content that could be considered as inciting rifts within the country and creating public confusion.

This was the third time the regulator has tried to take the red-shirt channel off the air. Its previous two attempts were blocked by Central Administrative Court injunctions. However, it is the first after the NBTC was granted immunity from civil, disciplinary and criminal liabilities by the junta's chief under the sweeping power granted him under Section 44 of the interim charter.

The telecom regulator on Thursday sent the order to the station on the fifth floor of the Imperial World shopping centre in Lat Phrao, telling it to cease operation for 30 days starting aat midnight.

It claimed some of the programmes caused divisiveness and confused the public.

Peace TV is the first station targeted by the NBTC after it was granted immunity the regime  the NBTC through Section 44 powers to clamp down on broadcasting stations deemed destabilising the country. The regulators are under civil and criminal protections from the section.

The station, run by the red shirts, is known for its anti-coup position and has campaigned against the draft charter.

Red-shirt leaders Weng Tojirakarn (left) and Jatuporn Prompan wait at the Central Administrative Court after they and five others seek a court injunction to keep their Peace TV on air. (Photo from Peace TV Facebook)

Soon after the order reached the office, Jatuporn Prompan, a top executive of Peace TV Station Co, and six other persons including four anchors sought an injunction from the Central Administrative Court to block the order. Their argument was that the station was an alternative for opponents of the draft charter.

Despite the NBTC's immunity, they planned to sue it for 6.3 million baht in damages for the 30-day black screen.

The court is considering whether to issue an injunction to save the station from being shut down for the third time.

Mr Jatuporn, also chairman of United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, once said the order to shut down the station was like a "death sentence" for Peace TV. He runs Mong Klai, a daily morning news programme popular among his audiences.

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