Following the 2014 coup, subscribers of TrueVisions became accustomed to brief interruptions to international news stations, signalled by the on screen announcement, “Programming will be resumed shortly”.
Initially these interruptions were overwhelmingly triggered by reports relating to the Thai Royal Family, which most viewers probably found understandable given Thailand’s strict lese majeste law and the potential responsibility of broadcasters for airing content deemed inappropriate.
Recently, with elections imminent, the interruptions caused by the TrueVisions censors have become longer and more frequent. However, since many of the international news stations post their reports online, the more curious viewer is, in many cases, still able to access the missing content, often in real time. It appears that most recent interruptions are of a strictly political nature. Yesterday I observed that the censors were blocking two reports: one was about the government’s support programme for rubber prices which those interviewed by the reporter claimed was intended to influence voters in support of a certain party; the other was about the work of Thai artists who oppose the current government. Whether these English-language reports are censored or not on Thai cable television does not make any difference to local political sentiment. However, it is no doubt symptomatic of the censorship and self-censorship taking place on Thai-language broadcast media.