Junta accused of exploiting news media
The Campaign for Popular Media Reform yesterday demanded the government free Channel 11 from state control after it permitted media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul to use the station for broadcasts.
His "Yarm Fao Paen Din" - or "Guarding the Land" - programme will be aired Monday through Friday.
In a statement, the media group said Manager Group announced on its website that Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont supported the broadcasts as part of his "proactive media strategy".
The campaign criticised the decision, saying it suggested the news media was being exploited as a political tool. The government has violated press freedoms and democratic principles through the manipulation of information, it said.
"The programme cannot be neutral and free. This is no different from when the Thaksin government was in control. This phenomenon is living testimony of failure in news media reform," the statement said.
"Instead of being a public watchdog, the news media is just a guard dog and servant of the state.
"Public confidence and trust in the institution of the news media is shaken because Manager Group played a key role in opposing the Thaksin government which was ousted by the military. Today the group is being used by the military-backed government as a propaganda tool."
The group added that exploitation of the media for propaganda would divide society.
The news media will be used to attack political opponents or those with different views and interests, it added.
A biased media produces biased and unfair reports generating prejudice and discrimination, it said.
"Thaksinomics is not the only enemy of the Thai people. Nepotism and capitalism - which are deep-rooted in society - are the true enemies," the statement said.
The campaign called on the government to free the state channel and allow competition so that the private sector could manage the broadcaster.