The Gutting of iTV

Leave the space by Buncha/Kamin - Manager, December 14, 2006
Man: Sad news in the morning... Ho. [a sound of crying]
From the lady, sounds of crying.
Bottom right: Fans of iTV news this morning may have to hold back tears.

iTV survives for now - March 7, 2007
It has been a seesaw ride for iTV and the press have been trying to keep up. The Nation even pre-reported the closure as if it already happened...

STATION OFF THE AIR - iTV's last hope hinges on court - The Nation, March 7, 2007
...The embattled iTV station went off air immediately after midnight last night pending the Council of State's interpretation as to whether the Public Relations Department (PRD) can take over and operate the station, which has failed to pay more than Bt100 billion in debts to the PM's Office...

And a flurry of conflicting headlines in the foreign press--is the government seizing it, stopping it or running it?

Thai government to seize private TV channel - CNN, March 6, 2007

Thai govt agency to run ITV til new operator found - Reuters, March 5, 2007

Thai govt to stop iTV broadcast at midnight - Bernama, March 6, 2007

Thai govt to temporarily take over private TV station - TODAYonline, March 6, 2007

iTV website

What iTV once was - December 16, 2006

With restored concession fees threatening to sink iTV, there is not much in the English-language press about the significance of the station. Even the The Nation's chronology of iTV principally covers events from the Thaksin era.

After iTV was created in 1995 to be an independent source of news in the broadcast media world, it became the talk of the town for its investigative journalism of sensitive subjects such as exposing the Naga fireballs and the gem scam, using hidden camera to show policeman taking bribes from motorists, and highlighting the sexual exploits of famous monks. Nothing like this had ever been shown on Thai TV before.

Incisive newscasting on TV broke Thai norms. Print media is open to all manner of sensational reporting, but television is considered as an overly influential medium and is usually under the yoke of military or government influence. The vapid soap operas of Thai TV that typically reinforce traditional forms of interaction and expression are part of this idea that TV should be a pacifying and not a controversial medium.

iTV always lost money and even during the Democrat-led government era, iTV was accused of colluding with the government to circumvent concession fees.

It is not surprising that Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai, which attempted to bring all aspects of the Thai state under its control, would see iTV as another media outlet to be targeted for absorption or closure. The rest of the Thai word also wanted this pesky news outlet humbled. Its open exposure and ridicule of officials through its hidden camera reports struck at the heart of Thai concepts of "face" that one is supposed to maintain, whether doing right or wrong.

Taming the media - Asiaweek, February 16, 2001
...The ITV controversy, which started with Thepchai's ouster, blew open on Jan. 12 when 20 of his former colleagues at the station, led by managing editor Jira Hongsamrerng, went public with charges that pressure had been applied on them to do stories favorable to Thai Rak Thai and Thaksin's Shin Corp. business empire. "There was so much intervention by the executives, so much political interference," says Jira. After the whistle-blowing, Jira was called in for a meeting with his bosses. "They told me I had a problem, because what I had done was to the detriment of ITV. They said I was wrong to tell the public. And there on the table was the resignation form. I was forced to resign."
Similar allegations have been forthcoming from another television station, Channel 3. Popular TV commentator Kasemsant Weerakun recently announced that he and his news team had quit the station following pressure to toe the Thai Rak Thai line. "Almost every morning, my staff would get calls saying, don't say anything negative about Thai Rak Thai and Thaksin," he charges...

Poojadkuan, December 14, 2006
Above: iTV changes the type of news it reports. Now it will present only sad news.
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