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Media may be given guidelines

CMPO might give instructions on news coverage to some editors, Paradorn says

THE CENTRE for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) might invite editors from some media outlets to instruct them to not provoke unrest through their reports, CMPO secretary Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday. However, he did not reveal who would be invited.

His statement comes one day after the government invoked the emergency decree in Bangkok and its surrounding areas to deal with the ongoing anti-government protests led by former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban. The order, which went into effect yesterday, will remain in force for two months.

Paradorn, meanwhile, dismissed reports that the centre will use the authority it has been granted under the emergency decree to shut down media, saying this invitation has nothing to do with gagging the press.

"We should understand that news reports should not be the source of provocation and instigation that can lead to chaos and unrest," he said, adding that the media should not be worried if it sticks to reporting facts.

When asked if he would invite the BlueSky Channel, which has been broadcasting the anti-government protests, Paradorn said he had already conveyed the message and that its editors would be invited if there are any inappropriate news reports.

Separately, a commissioner from the National Broadcast and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said yesterday that the power of suspending TV channels lay in the hands of the broadcasting regulator.

If the CMPO wants to suspend the operation of TV, the order should come from the NBTC, unless the suspension is related to an unauthorised channel, Supinya Klangnarong pointed out in a Facebook post. She also said the BlueSky channel has just renewed its licence for another two years. "If the CMPO asks the NBTC to do this, they have to give us a reason. Because the BlueSky Channel has done nothing wrong - it was given a licence. If its content violates the law, then the CMPO will have to send the content to us to decide if it is unlawful," she said.

She added that the emergency decree could not be used to overrule the NBTC's authority to regulate licensed broadcasters.

"Don’t panic. Your [operator's] licence now is a defence for press freedom, however, this license comes with responsibility to all citizens. Let's work together to uphold press freedom and the code of ethics," Supinya wrote.

Meanwhile, four professional media groups issued a statement yesterday warning that the emergency decree would intensify the conflict and lead to the infringement of media rights and freedom, which is unconstitutional. The statement came from the Thai Journalist Association, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, News Broadcasting Council of Thailand and National Press Council of Thailand.

They also said the ongoing violence did not warrant the use of law to curtail the freedom of expression, adding that the decree might give the authorities the power to censor media that is critical of the government - a move that is also unconstitutional.

They also advised the government to be mindful in their press statements to prevent the distortion of facts.




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