Ch 9 drops Sondhi for royal references

The Nation

September 16, 2005 - Channel 9 yesterday decided to cancel a weekly live programme hosted by veteran journalist Sondhi Limthongkul because it improperly cited His Majesty the King and the monarchy on several occasions over the past month, an executive of the TV station said.

The content of the programme, "Muangthai Rai Sapda" (Thailand Weekly), could have caused misunderstandings on the part of the public, said Rewat Chamchalerm, chairman of MCOT Plc, which operates Channel 9.

The last straw for the TV station was last Friday's programme, during which Sondhi said the appointment of a senior monk to perform caretaker tasks on behalf of the Supreme Patriarch was against royal powers, Rewat said.

Rewat said MCOT executives on Tuesday met His Majesty's principal private secretary, Asa Sarasin, and other senior officials from the Palace to discuss the matter. He said the officials told MCOT that Sondhi had not been given permission by the Palace to talk about the matter.

MCOT said in a statement that Sondhi's programme, which aired every Friday from 10pm to 11pm, had been the subject of several legal actions and that the station had warned Sondhi several times to avoid violating individual rights.

"Muangthai Rai Sapda" would be taken off the air effective today, said Mingkhwan Sangsuwan, president of MCOT.

Sondhi yesterday insisted everything he said in his show was true. He said MCOT and media organisations under its control appeared to be "tools of the government" rather than media organisations that bore the public in mind.



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