Also: 'A tale of two newspapers' archives
THAILAND: Police raid community radio station and confiscate equipment - Asian Human Rights Commission, October 17, 2008
Interference mars community radio - Asia Media Forum, January 11, 2008A tale of two newspapers: Closing community radio III - June 1, 2005
[This is an interesting article that nevertheless obscures the recent history of community radio. It was the Thaksin governments that refused to create the National Broadcasting Commission and actively battled to shut down community radio stations.]
The gulf between the Post and Nation could not be wider. The Nation article invokes the Prem era and the May 1992 revolt while the Post reports paid advertising is the cause of stations "breaching telecom regulations."
Community-radio crackdown panned - The Nation, June 1, 2005
Community radio broadcasters and activists yesterday accused the Thaksin government of trying to silence dissident voices by cracking down on the often feisty medium.
Anchalee Paireerak, a high-profile community radio broadcaster based in Bangkok who has been raided by police several times over the past few months, said freedom of expression was facing its gravest threat since the end of the Prem Tinsula-nonda administration in the late 1980s...
Anusorn said the state should understand and respect the fact that the need to safeguard the independence of community radio stations, and keep them free of political and commercial interests, was a result of the May 1992 revolt, when state-controlled radio and television lied to the people.
Democrat MP Apichart Sakdisaet said the governments claim about community radio signals interfering with flight communications had to be substantiated and supporting publicly.
It must not be used as a pretext for a hidden agenda, he said, adding that those stations being prosecuted appeared to be those that were critical of the government.
Abuse blamed on regulation - Bangkok Post, June 1, 2005
The Public Relations Department is being urged to revoke a regulation that allows community radio stations to broadcast announcements.
The directive is being pinpointed as the root cause of problems involving community radio stations, several of which are breaching telecom regulations.
It allows community radio stations to air announcements for six minutes an hour. But the regulation also seems to have been misused to air paid advertisements, which explains the sudden boom in community radio stations...
Ms Anchalee said certain politicians and PRD officials have vested interests in the community radio sector.
Supinya Klangnarong, a media reform advocate, called on the government to set up an independent panel to resolve the dispute.
Radio spat only hurts the public - Bangkok Post, May 25, 2005
[Can the Bangkok Post write an editorial about the community radio controversy and not mention the controversy itself? Yes. The Post editorial tries to misrepresent and redefine the controversy. Their explanation of the controversy is that the government "attracted much criticism by its campaign to impose order on community radio stations." The actual charge--widely reported in the Thai and international press over the past three years--is that the government is attempting to close stations that broadcast anti-government views and has delayed setting up the NBC.]
...At the heart of the ongoing controversy are the complaints by operators, some members of the Senate and non-government organisations, over the government's efforts to exert its control over the new airwaves. While their concern is valid, those in the community radio business and media freedom advocates will have to admit the rot which has begun to develop within the local radio communities has provided a logical excuse for state interference.
...It would not be an exaggeration to say the problem has now developed to a point that the new broadcasts have become more of an additional airwave pollution than an alternative source of information to the highly commercialised mainstream radio.
...The government has attracted much criticism by its campaign to impose order on community radio stations. But it can do the public a favour and repair the damage to its reputation by helping identify rogue radio operators and getting rid of those who seek profits under the guise of community radio service providers.
A tale of two newspapers: Closing community radio II - May 21, 2005
The Post article has 15 paragraphs explaining the government's reason for closing community radio stations before mentioning the allegations that the government targets stations that criticize it. It also adds a police denial that officers attempted to search the station in the TPI building. The Nation mentions the allegations in the second paragraph and restates the charges that police attempted to search the station.
Govt puts the heat on local radio - Warning: Play by the rules or be shut down - Bangkok Post, May 19, 2005
...Pol Maj-Gen Kosin said an official of the Public Relations Department told him the station's powerful transmitter and high antenna caused interference. He then asked his staff to warn the station "gently".
Pol Maj-Gen Kosin denied his officers harassed anyone. He admitted police had no authority to take the action because the authority rested with the NBC but he said a gentle request for cooperation should be acceptable.
He denied a report that two policemen had tried to search the radio station at the TPI building on Narathiwat Rachanakarin road. However, the Senate committee decided to ask the police force to investigate...
COMMUNITY RADIO: PRD orders closure of stations over legal limit - The Nation, May 19 , 2005
...Radio FM 92.25 accused police of intimidation after two officers attempted to gain entry to the third floor of the TPI building, where the station is located, on Wednesday. Metropolitan Police Bureau 5 commissioner Maj-General Kosin Hinthao, who was accused of ordering Thung Mahamek police to search the TPI building, defended himself to the House committee on social development and human security against the allegation.
...He said police had no intention of intimidating the station, but he had received a complaint from a PRD official that the station was disrupting other frequencies...
Also: Broadcaster plans all-out govt attack - The Nation, May 21, 2005
A community radio station critical of the prime minister has announced plans to retaliate against a government threat to shut it down by broadcasting its anti-government programmes through other community radio stations around the country...
Also: Listen to FM 92.25's broadcasts
A tale of two newspapers: Closing community radio
The Post has a just-the-facts article with the government side, saying radio stations were being closed "for causing trouble for air traffic radio" by transmitting at higher power levels than allowed. The FM 92.25 controversy is pushed to the end of the article and reported as a separate incident and a disagreement between presenters.
The Nation has an entirely different story about the government closing community radio stations to stifle criticism along with a veiled threat by a "high-ranking police official." The Nation then has quotes from senators who are going to call police before them to explain these actions and gleefully points out that stations owned by Yaowapa Wongsawat, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's sister, are not being shut down.
17 community radio stations told to close - Bangkok Post, May 18, 2005
The National Telecommunications Commission ordered 17 community radio stations closed yesterday, saying they interfered with other radio stations and air traffic controllers.
Apichart Sakdiset, spokesman of the House committee on telecommunications, quoted the NTC as reporting that it had closed 17 community radio stations for interference. Of the stations, seven frequently interfered with air traffic radio, and the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Co had complained.
...The move came four days after Minister to the Prime Minister's Office Suranand Vejjajiva vowed to crack down on community radio stations for causing trouble for air traffic radio.
...Meanwhile, Smarn Sri-ngarm, a programme host of the FM 92.25 community radio station, complained that two policemen attempted to search the office of the radio station yesterday but security guards stopped them.
He said that no one could stop him from discussing stories in the public interest such as state enterprise privatisation because the public had the right to know.
...Miss Anchalee said a listener told her that Mr Sorayut raised a photograph of the TPI building in his TV programme yesterday morning and indicated that a former journalist who worked at a community radio station there was hired to attack the government.
COMMUNITY RADIO : Police muscle in on critical station - The Nation, May 18 , 2005
A community radio station yesterday accused police of intimidation after the two officers tried to search the TPI Building, where the station is located.
...She said police were attempting to put pressure on her team and scare them. Earlier, a high-ranking police official called her to say she should take care of her staff.
"This is not right and not fair,'' she said.
Senator Nirand Pithakwatchara, who chairs the House committee on social development and human security, said he would summon Metropolitan Police Bureau 5 commissioner Maj-General Kosin Hinthao, who has jurisdiction over Thung Mahamek police station.
... "The government cannot take action against this station for being critical of the administration. If it's going to cite those directives, then it has to shut down the other local community stations, which are owned by those with ties to the prime minister," Nirand said.
...Meanwhile, the government was accused of discrimination yesterday for closing seven community radio stations and planning to close another 10, including ones critical of the government. The House communications and telecommunications committee yesterday summoned PM's Office Minister Suranand Vejjajiva to explain why the seven community radio stations had been shut down.
... The 17 did not include stations belonging to Traffic Corner, owned by the daughter of Yaowapa Wongsawat, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's sister...
Community radio - Bangkok Post, May 8, 2003
And only recently, a compromise seemed at hand. Following grassroots appeals, the Public Relations Department had invited civic leaders to draft temporary measures governing community radio in the absence of relevant organic laws. Their proposal was approved, but the state PR machine then did not table it for cabinet consideration. Instead, it tabled its own draconian version, which places community radio to be under Tambon Administration Organisations.It's common knowledge that the TAOs are dominated by the local mafia, who go on to become local politicians and canvassers with links to national policymakers. We can foresee how community radio will end up a tool to tighten their grip on power instead of being the voice of the civic sector.
Community radio gets interim frequencies - Bangkok Post, March 31, 2003
COMMUNITY RADIO GIFT: TRT 'plans to rule airwaves' - The Nation, December 20, 2002
This is the latest in an interesting and long-running story.
Unlicensed community radio stations will be shut down, Post: No broadcasters could operate legally without a licence from the National Broadcasting Commission, which was yet to be established, Mr Visanu said... The constitution guarantees freedom of the media and specifically frees the airwaves for public use, but two bureaucratic agencies must be established first. The National Broadcasting Commission would decide who can broadcast and the National Telecommunications Commission would distribute frequencies.
Broadcasters fight govt bids to silence them - The Nation, October 11, 2002
The gathering included operators of some 50 stations that currently broadcast to listeners in their own communities - in spite of government legal threats.
Here's an earlier, more in-depth article: MEDIA-THAILAND: Struggle for Airwaves Still On - The Irrawaddy, June 19, 2002
Some stations broadcast to as few as 100 homes, although the government is trying to stop this. Initially the government supported these small-scale broadcasts: People began to use the community slots to air grievances about local services and government policies on live phone-in shows, often forcing officials to answer embarrassing questions and respond to the issues raised... The government started to get uneasy about this trend and began curtailing community involvement at its stations, eventually resulting in the PRD calling off the project in mid-2000.... On the one hand, the constitution protects their rights to run community stations, but on the other the government, which owns and controls the nation's 500 radio frequencies, had cut off what seemed their only access to the airwaves. An excellent read...
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