NBTC to examine why Thai PBS axed show
Supinya calls for clear-cut rules on self-censorship by television channelsThe National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will discuss during its meeting today the Thai PBS’ recent cancellation of a controversial show, NBTC commissioner Supinya Klangnarong said yesterday.
Supinya said the NBTC was scheduled to discuss the cancellation of the Nua Mek 2 drama by Channel 3 during today's meeting so she would ask the meeting to discuss the Thai PBS case as well.
Following a protest by a viewers' group, Thai PBS decided to cancel the airing of the fifth part of its series on the constitutional monarchy on Friday night. The fifth series was a continuing debate between red-shirt academic and Thammasat lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa.
Supinya said there should be clear-cut rules on self-censorship by television organisations because of the incidents of Channel 3 and Thai PBS.
She said Pinyo Traisuriyathamma, host of the Tob Jote Thailand (Answering Thailand's questions) programme during which the series was aired, could file a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission if he thought Thai PBS unfairly cancelled his programme. She said Pinyo as a freelance TV host, was protected by Article 46 of the Constitution to have freedom of expression, and not controlled by the TV owner.
On Saturday, Somchai Suwanban, the Thai PBS director, said his station decided to defer the broadcast of the fifth part of the series because a group of viewers came to the station to request cancellation of the show.
Somchai said the TV management feared the programme's production team might be in danger so he decided to defer its broadcast pending a comprehensive review by a subcommittee in charge of receiving public complaints.
Somchai said Thai PBS was a public TV operator so it had the duty to allow people of all sectors to air their opinions directly or indirectly - especially on issues that have been widely debated in society - but the debates have been restricted to private discussion.
Pinyo has announced on his Facebook wall that he would stop hosting the Tob Jote Thailand programme because his journalistic work had been interfered with and intimidated by "people within the organisation".
But Sermsuk Kasitipradit, the political and security news editor of Thai PBS, denied t the station's management had ever interfered in the journalistic works of the editorial team.
Sermsuk also questioned the professional judgement of Pinyo for giving too much time to Somsak. Sermsuk noted that Pinyo had aired Somsak's interview in one part and planned two more parts in Somsak's debate with Sulak.
Sermsuk said he saw that Somsak was not important enough to receive publicity in three parts as planned by Pinyo unless Pinyo had a hidden agenda.
Sermsuk said it was not fair for Thai PBS if Pinyo was to seek a heroic role by destroying the credibility of the public TV station.