Media reject regulation as unnecessary

Media reject regulation as unnecessary

Thepchai Yong (with microphone) and other media representatives have strengthened their opposition to any new body to oversee the free press. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Thepchai Yong (with microphone) and other media representatives have strengthened their opposition to any new body to oversee the free press. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Five media organisations reaffirmed their opposition Tuesday to a bill aimed at setting up a new body to regulate the media, saying this is unnecessary as the mainstream media has refrained from taking sides in times of political conflict.

"The media organisations have from the beginning made clear their stance that the bill on media rights, protection of freedom, and the promotion of media ethics and standards is a mechanism that will create a loophole to easily allow political interference with the media," said Thepchai Yong, president of the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association.

Representatives of the association and those from four others -- the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, National Press Council of Thailand, Thai Journalists Association, and Online News Providers Association -- met Tuesday to discuss the Framework of National Reform, Strategy and Reconciliation with a government sub-committee on reconciliation.

After about three hours of talks, Mr Thepchai said the media groups had made clear to the sub-committee that they have never served as political pawns.

So rather than setting up new layers of oversight, the current laws should be stringently enforced and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission must maintain its duty as an independent regulator, he said.

The five media groups also submitted a five-point statement to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon in his capacity as deputy chairman of a committee tasked with paving the way for reconciliation, said Mongkol Bangprapa, secretary-general of the Thai Journalists Association.

The media already have their own professional code of ethics and are also subject to Thai defamation, criminal, computer crime and other laws, he said.

Moreover, setting up a new council to regulate the media is not the best way of dealing with any outlets that show bias and stir up social conflict, he added.

On the flip side of the coin, such a council would run the risk of becoming a channel for even higher levels of political intervention that could possibly generate more dangerous levels of conflict in society, he said.

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