2003 - THE YEAR OF REPORTING TIMIDLY?
Critical and balanced reporting was discouraged as news sources refrained from divulging information or expressing criticism of the government for fear of losing their jobs, TJA says.
The government, led by President Thaksin Shinawatra, employed various subtle methods to "rein in" the media, including using its ties with business leaders to withdraw advertisements from newspapers critical of the government's policies, adds TJA. Government agencies also offered financial rewards to media that reported favourably on their actions - a violation of the Thai constitution, TJA argues.
Thaksin's ruling Thai Rak Thai party also made indirect moves to control one of Thailand's largest media conglomerates, the Nation Group. Relatives of the party's secretary general, Suriya Jungrungreangkit, were discovered to have purchased a 20 per cent stake in the conglomerate.
Meanwhile, in the broadcasting sector, the government stalled on media reform, despite constitutional obligations under Article 40, TJA says. The constitution obliges the government to enact legal reforms to end the state's monopoly of Thailand's broadcasters. To date, nearly all radio and television stations remain under government control.
TJA warns that the Thai government's moves to "tame the media" are aimed at ensuring favourable coverage of its last year in office in 2004 and guaranteeing electoral victory in next year's general elections.
Read TJA's full report here: http://www.seapabkk.org/news/2003/12/20031230.htm