NRSA warned over media control in reform bill

NRSA warned over media control in reform bill

Six media organisations on Monday issued a statement accusing the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) of attempting to allow politicians and government officials to intervene with the media’s self-regulation in its media reform bill.

Led by the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA), the organisations said in a statement that there was evidence that the NRSA had attempted to propose further amendments to the draft bill on the rights protection, ethical promotion and professional standards of media workers in order to empower politicians and government officials to intervene with the self-regulation of media agencies.

The statement singled out a proposal to allow a government official from a state agency who holds a position equivalent to a permanent secretary to sit on the so-called national media professional council.

The proposed establishment of the central media council is aimed at regulating the conduct of media practitioners and has become the most contentious issue of the bill as the country's leading media groups argued it would invite undue media interference and could result in biased news coverage.

The statement said there was also an attempt to give the council the authority to register, issue and revoke permits of media personnel. 

The statement called on ACM Khanit Suwannetr, chairman of the NRSA's media reform committee, to review any provision that poses a serious breach of media freedom or goes against the intention of the draft constitution which protects the rights of media personnel. It also urged the panel to take into consideration the media organisations’ proposals for the bill which will be submitted to it on Thursday. 

The other five organisations are the National Press Council of Thailand, News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, Thai Journalists Association, Online News Providers Association and Thailand Cable TV Association. 

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