Bill stipulates employer certification of journalists; retains govt oversight.
THE NATIONAL Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) media reform panel has agreed to remove clauses regarding a licensing system and severe penalties from its proposed media regulatory bill following a debate last week.
Regulation of the media will instead come in the form of certifications issued by media companies to media professionals, according to ACM Kanit Suwannet, chairman of the media reform committee.
The original version of the media regulatory bill stipulated that media professionals would be required to be licensed by the “professional” council. Violations of the law would be punishable by a maximum of three years in prison or a fine of up to Bt60,000. Kanit said the media council would still include two ministerial permanent secretaries. An NRSA meeting last week had not heard any concerns regarding that issue, he said.
The revised proposal had already been completed by the committee, Kanit said. It will be submitted to NRSA president Tinnapan Nakata next Monday before it is forwarded to the Cabinet, he added.
Kanit said the committee would attach suggestions made by NRSA members in the meeting last week as well as his recommendation that the two state representatives would only sit on the council for five years.
The removal of controversial clauses in the proposed bill came after weeks of strong opposition from media groups.
On Wednesday of last week, on World Press Freedom Day, 30 groups of journalists and media representatives continued their campaign against the draft law with strong support from regional media organisations such as the Southeast Asian Press Alliance and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. Both groups also issued separate statements condemning government efforts to further control the media.
Many foreign ambassadors have voiced their support for the Thai media groups’ campaign to retain the press freedom. Finnish Ambassador Satu Suikkari-Kleven told The Nation that Finland highly valued the benefit of press freedom as it is related to countering corruption and innovations in society. It was also extremely important regarding individuals’ human rights, she said.
The Finnish envoy was among a group of Western diplomats taking part in an event held by the Thai Journalists Association to mark World Press Freedom Day.