Media control bill suspended
published : 2 Feb 2017 at 18:39
writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
The whip committee of the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) on Thursday rejected the controversial media regulation bill in the face of growing opposition from media organisations and told drafters to review it.
It agreed in principle that there should be a national media council but there were concerns inside and outside the assembly and the issue involved the public, Khamnoon Sitthisamarn, spokesman of the NRSA whip committee, said.
“We agree in principle the voluntary self-regulation of media organisations should be upgraded and become a responsibility of a legal profession council. But the composition and authority of the councillors should be reviewed,” he said.
The NRSA’s media reform panel which drafted the bill would review that and resubmit the bill soon, Mr Khamnoon said.
Early on Thursday, representatives of 30 media organisations filed their written objection to the bill. They stressed that the bill would let authorities influence the mass media against the spirits of the new constitution which already passed a referendum and ensured independence and self-regulation among media organisations.
They also proposed that the head of the NRSA’s media reform panel be replaced, saying ACM Kanit Suwannate had falsely claimed representatives of media organisations supported the bill and it passed a public hearing organised by the Thailand Development Research Institute.
Besides, four media professionals resigned as members of the NRSA’s media reform panel in protest.
Opponents said the NRSA media reform panel’s draft “bill on rights protection, ethical promotion and standards of media professionals” would empower the national media council to issue and revoke licences for all media professionals.
Their main concern is the four seats in the council reserved for permanent secretaries of some ministries. They view the requirement would allow interference in the media and limit people’s rights to information.