NCPO sets up five panels to watch media

NCPO sets up five panels to watch media

Journalists say regime wants to meddle in work

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has set up five panels to monitor content in all branches of the media.

It says the panels will help prevent the media from becoming tools to distribute false information stirring up violence and provoking public hatred against the monarchy.

The decision to set up the panels was made at a meeting of state agencies chaired by the NCPO’s deputy chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, who is in charge of special affairs.

The panels will be made up of representatives of the Royal Thai Police, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Public Relations Department and other state agencies.

Pol Gen Adul said the panels will have separate responsibilities in monitoring content in radio broadcasts, television, print, online and social media, and foreign media.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will be responsible for examining radio and television content.

Pol Maj Gen Rewat Klinkesorn, acting Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) commissioner, said the CIB would monitor print media specifically for content that may stir up unrest or provoke criticism of the monarchy.

While online media will be screened by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, foreign media content will be monitored by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Any media found spreading inappropriate content will face criminal charges, said Pol Gen Adul.

He said the police would not pursue legal action against media organisations, as long as journalists comply with the law in performing their duties and present and broadcast their views and information to the public in a straightforward and fair manner.

The panels will report to NCPO’s chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha immediately if false information about the NCPO’s work is found in the media.

The panels also will prepare daily and weekly work reports for Gen Prayuth to examine.

The Thai Journalists Association says the NCPO’s guidelines are too broad and could result in the rights of the media being trampled on.

Nattharavut Muangsuk, a media representative, said the NCPO was asking for the media’s cooperation in not carrying reports that may widen divisions or criticise the coup.

It was obvious the order implied that the NCPO wanted to interfere with the media’s work.

"This makes it impossible for the media to scrutinise the work of NCPO," said Mr Nattharavut.

Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of Prachatai, said the order relating to the media will only hurt the NCPO’s image, because local media organisations are professional and careful to not criticise the coup or the royal family in its broadcasts and reports.

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