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Media Restrictions | Fake and Distorted News Coverage

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  • Media Restrictions | Fake and Distorted News Coverage

    Media banned from spreading fake and distorted news

    Starting July 30.2021, the Thai government has banned media from spreading fake or distorted news that might cause fear pertaining to the Covid outbreak. The threat of censorship now hangs over the heads of violators. Honestly, this insensitive government can't handle the pandemic at all and its obviously better when the media does not write about these problems because they will never improve.

    Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha signed the restriction order, which was previously published in the Royal Gazette. The order says that the media is barred from publishing/broadcasting information that “foments fear or has the intention of distorting information and causes confusion”, which the report says may affect national security/stability.

    Further, it has been reported that The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission can revoke the licenses of media who are seen as violating the rules. The NBTC will monitor the news with an eye towards what can be considered distorted/fearmongering. They will also be obligated to notify the police of the violator’s identity.

    People who are found guilty might have their IP address traced and subsequently have their internet access revoked by the NBTC

    On Wednesday, a joint statement came from 6 media associations in Thailand was released. The statement opposed the existing restrictions from the State of Emergency and was issued in expectation of today’s news ban on fake news/distorted news. The media associations say that their previous demands were ignored by the government.

    They conceded that a small number of media agencies have occasionally presented inaccurate news, but this was not an intentional conspiracy to spread falsehoods or an attempt to damage society, charges the government often lob against the media. The associations say these mistakes are simply journalistic errors that can sometimes happen in the media industry.

    “We call upon all professionals in the media and news agencies to stand united and oppose the government’s new measures. We also urge the media establishment to take utmost care to ensure that their news coverage is accurate and compliant with the highest journalistic standards, to deny the government any excuse to interfere with media operations,” adds the group.

  • #2
    US says free press integral to democracy, pledges support for Thai journalists

    The Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Bangkok says the United States pledges to support a free press and independent journalism in Thailand. Michael Heath has described a free press as a vital component of democracy and freedom of expression. The Bangkok Post reports that he was addressing reporters who were attending a seminar at the embassy. The event was organised by the Thai Journalists Association.

    “This seminar marks the first collaborative effort of its kind between the US embassy and TJA. Like we do across the world, the United States will continue to support a vibrant, free press which keeps us informed, prevents the spread of mis- and dis-information, and serves as a cornerstone of democracy.”

    Heath also discussed matters of US foreign policy in the region and collaboration between the US and Thailand.

    “As a Pacific nation, the United States is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific because a free and open architecture benefits both the American people and the peoples of all other Pacific nations.”
    According to the Bangkok Post report, Heath went on to discuss the issues of peace and security in the region, including dispute resolution, respecting human rights, safeguarding critical supply chains, developing sustainable, transparent economic development, and supporting ASEAN centrality. As part of these efforts, Heath says the US is working on strengthening ties with like-minded countries in the region, including Thailand.

    “As Admiral (John) Aquilino, the commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, said during his recent visit to Thailand, the United States is committed to ensuring peace, prosperity, and stability for all countries in the region.”
    Heath points out that Thailand has managed to keep its supply chains intact during the Covid-19 pandemic, something many neighbouring nations and other countries around the world struggled to do. The US is currently Thailand’s largest export market.


    • #3
      One million sign call for withdrawal of Amnesty International Thailand’s operating license

      Apparently, one million people want to expel Amnesty International from Thailand. The vice minister of the Prime Minister’s office says he’s collected one million signatures in his campaign to withdrawal the non-profit organisation’s operating license.

      The vice minister, who some call “Rambo Isaan,” accuses the NGO of being a threat to the country. Amnesty International Thailand has been a vocal advocate for human rights during the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, calling on an end to police violence on protesters and for detained protestors to be released.

      The vice minister, Seksakol Atthawong, is pushing a bill that will require NGOs to reveal their sources of financial support, both local and international, among other financial details. It also demands that NGOs not organise activities determined to undermine national security or create conflict in Thai society.

      According to a poll by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) that Seksakol cited, 52.36% of respondents agree that NGOs should disclose their funding sources. This percentage is 58.14 for NGOs that receive foreign funding. 34.7% of respondents agree that NGOs must not participate in affairs determined to threaten national security or create conflict.

      Seksakol and his supporter view Amnesty International as threatening national security. The organisation has faced threats in Thailand in the past. Police investigated it in November upon a request by a network claiming it undermined security. Members of the network, among other groups, rallied outside Silom Complex that month, also hoping to expel AI from the country.


      • #4
        Thai Army’s Channel 5 spreads fake news on Russian attack in Ukraine

        Two anchors of the army-owned TV station Channel 5 falsely stated that Ukrainians in a broadcast of their Lao Khao Khon

        Earlier this week, two anchors of the Thai army-owned TV station Channel 5 falsely stated that Ukrainians “faked casualties” in a broadcast of their Lao Khao Khon (เล่าข่าวข้น). The footage was actually from a climate change protest in Austria last month where activists lay on the ground with body bags as a demonstration.

        From the original clip that went viral on social media, a reporter is seen presenting in front of what seem to be rows of body bags. Until a woman comes over to zip it back, and a person can be seen moving around within one of the bags. The climate change protest in Austria’s capital Vienna clearly has nothing to do with Ukraine.

        In a broadcast on Royal Thai Army’s Channel 5, reporters showed the clip, presenting it as a scene from Ukraine following the Russian invasion where a number of civilians have been killed. One anchor said “Watch this footage, there’re corpses lying there, we believe they are Ukrainian people. Do you see those bodies in the bags? Some bodies are still moving.” Another continued by saying “The floor’s hot, maybe.”

        It was unknown whether the hosts of the Thai TV channel purposefully submitted false material or were ignorant and did not bother to verify if the video is true. One of the reports has a history of spreading false news in support of his political views, according to the news outlet Coconuts Bangkok. He used the video to take a defensive stance against Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

        “This is fake news, people. Like they are trying to show that yeah, Russia is so brutal. Russia has bombed them for 4-5 days and people died.”
        The hosts’ incorrect and inaccurate material was called out by Thai Journalist Association board member and former Khaosod English reporter, who urged action from media organisations such as the National Press Council and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association.


        • #5
          Award winning Thai author and journalist dies

          An award winning Thai author who fled Thailand in 2014 has passed away in France due to health reasons, according to his daughter. The author, Wat Wallayangkoon, wrote the novel Transitor Love Story, which was adapted into a film in 2001. The story is about a rural man who dreams of becoming a singer. Wat won a prestigious Thai award in 2007.

          Wat became well known in 1976 when Thailand was in the middle of a political uprising. After the infamous Thammasat Massacre, when police and Right Wing groups killed at least 46 activists and students, Wat fled Bangkok and hid in a forest. There, he wrote stories, novels, and poems.

          Wat was charged with lese majeste after Thailand’s 2014 coup. He fled to Cambodia and Laos. He moved to France in 2019.

          Wat’s daughter, Wajana, announced in a Facebook post yesterday that Wat died on Monday due to being “seriously ill” without specifying what condition he had. Wajana said it was hard to be her father’s daughter because he had to flee Thailand. Yet, she said she couldn’t imagine life without her father.

          “It wasn’t that hard because of my father. It’s hard because this country is where people like my father can’t live”.
          Wat was 67 years old when he passed away. In addition to being an author, he also worked as a journalist.


          • #6
            Head of Thai Army’s Channel 5 to be replaced after plan to exchange news with Russia

            After a controversial meeting with the Russian ambassador on news coverage of the Ukraine conflict, the director of the Royal Thai Army-owned TV Channel 5 is being replaced. Reports point out the meeting between Channel 5 director Rangsee Kitiyanasap and the ambassador earlier this month, but it’s unclear why the channel’s chief is being replaced. Rangsee says he had submitted a letter of resignation, which said he was leaving the news outlet due to a “personal reason.”

            Rangsee had met with the Russian Ambassador to Thailand Yevgeny Tomikhin over a week ago to talk about a news partnership between Russia’s military network and other news outlets. The Bangkok Post says he signed an agreement regarding coverage of the ongoing crisis where Channel 5 staff would need to verify reports with the Russian embassy.

            Many criticised the neutrality of the channel, but Rangsee told reporters that he also met with Ukraine’s Chargé d’affaires Oleksandr Lysak to discuss a news exchange with Ukraine for balanced coverage of the ongoing conflict.

            In an interview with Thai PBS, Rangee said they needed more news sources for coverage of the Ukraine conflict, saying “We have been relying too much on western news agencies. How can we tell whether what they report are true? We need to have balance in our news.”

            Two anchors on Channel 5 spread false information on a broadcast earlier this month. The anchors falsely stated that Ukrainians “faked casualties,” while showing footage from a climate change protest in Austria last month where activists lay on the ground with body bags as a demonstration. The fake news had spread on social media, but Channel 5 failed to properly fact check the video and find the original source.

            The station, which advertises itself as a public broadcaster for national security, is a corporate division of the Royal Thai Army. Rangsee is to be replaced by the former director of the Army Training Command on April 7.