thaicables – It's Your Right to know the Truth!

06BANGKOK5837 The Coup and the Media: TV Censorship and Print Freedom

leave a comment »

“79318″,”9/22/2006 0:57″,”06BANGKOK5837″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,”

“,”null

Debra P Tous 09/27/2006 10:34:21 AM

From DB/Inbox: Debra P Tous

 

Cable

Text:

 

UNCLAS SENSITIVE BANGKOK 05837

 

SIPDIS

CXBKKSVR:

ACTION: PA

INFO: ECON POL CHRON DCM

 

DISSEMINATION: PA1

CHARGE: PROG

 

APPROVED: PAO: ACASPER

DRAFTED: AIO: LSTONE

CLEARED: POL: SSUTTON IO: KBOYLE

 

VZCZCBKI840

RR RUEHC RUEHZS RUEHCHI RUEHUL RHEFDIA RHHMUNA

DE RUEHBK #5837/01 2650057

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 220057Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1810

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 2472

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2124

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI”,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005837

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS; EAP/PD; EAP/P

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KPAO, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: The Coup and the Media: TV Censorship and Print Freedom

 

1. (SBU) Summary: Thai army troops continue to occupy almost all

Thai TV network studios, and are monitoring their broadcasts.

Thailand\’s major cable network has stopped blacking out broadcasts

from CNN and BBC whenever Thaksin\’s name is mentioned or image

shown. Commercial radio stations are operating, although provincial

community radio stations have closed. Newspapers report no

interference. At least one political web board was shut, but is

back up and includes some mildly critical postings. End summary.

 

TV: Armed Troops in Studios

 

2. (SBU) During the night of the coup, all Thai free-to-air

broadcast stations aired the same feed from army-owned and operated

Channel 5, but by mid-morning the next day they had returned to

\”regular\” programming, mostly light entertainment and informational

shows. Newscasts continue to air at their regularly scheduled times

and reports include factual – positive – news of the coup. News

commentary, never a very large segment of Thai TV programming, has

largely ceased. The exception is the all-news-format Nation

Channel.

 

3. (SBU) Embassy staff visited various TV stations. At ITV, the

network owned by Thaksin before he sold it to Temasek, armed

soldiers lined the front gate, front door, and newsroom. A huge

truck and armored vehicle were parked near the entrance, with more

vehicles at the exit. ITV reporters and anchors said the military

asked them not to broadcast material that might have a \”negative

impact\” or \”cause any resistance or disturbance.\” They are not

editing or reviewing material, although they are watching the

broadcasts. ITV staff acknowledged that, at least initially, they

felt the soldiers\’ presence had an \”oppressive\” effect on their

work. Likewise, the privately owned satellite Nation Channel has a

significant military presence, with armed guards and trucks at the

gate and five soldiers with rifles (with the clips out) outside and

inside the newsroom.

 

4. (SBU) Adisak Limprungpatanakij, president of the Nation

Broadcasting Corporation and avidly anti-Thaksin, cited a live

interview they aired with anti-coup content to make his point that

the coup has not affected press freedom. He said he believed the

military commander, who told him the troops were to provide security

to the Nation Channel and assist in linking to Channel 5 pool

coverage. Nation Channel staff happily keep the soldiers well-fed

during their stay.

 

5. (SBU) In contrast, the entertainment-oriented Channel 3 has only

a few soldiers guarding the entrance and news building, with no

trucks or equipment. A Channel 3 producer said the military has

requested that the station not air negative comments about the CDRM.

 

6. (SBU) Notably, there is no troop presence whatsoever at ASTV, the

free satellite TV network owned by anti-Thaksin campaigner Sondhi.

On coup night, no one asked them to air the Channel 5 pool coverage,

although they did so voluntarily when a statement was expected.

ASTV continues to broadcast without interference.

 

7. (SBU) CNN, BBC and MSNBC are now broadcasting normally. For two

days after the coup, pictures of or interviews about Thaksin

triggered an interruption with still pictures of movie stars. For

example, UBC cut a BBC interview with Pasook Pongpaijit, an academic

mildly critical of the coup, and a CNN interview with Paul Handley,

author of a book critical of the King.

 

The Night of the Coup: All Army Pool

————————————

 

8. (SBU) Reporters offered insight into media events the night of

the coup, as well. State-owned MCOT Channel 9 reporters said they

aired Prime Minister Thaksin\’s emergency statement only after ITV

refused. After Thaksin had been on the air for a couple of minutes,

armed army personnel burst into the Channel 9 studio, asked where

the Control Room was, and demanded that the technicians cut off the

broadcast. The screen went blank for a few minutes, and then

Channel 9 began running the Channel 5 stock footage paying homage to

the King. CNN interviewed Deputy Prime Minister Surakiat in New

York shortly after that, and a few minutes later UBC, the MCOT-owned

cable operator, cut transmission of CNN, MSNBC, and BBC.

 

Print media: Freer post-Coup?

——————————

 

9. (SBU) PA visits to print media revealed no overt censorship or

intimidation. Thai Rath and Bangkok Post newsrooms were operating

normally. Pana Janviroj, president of the Nation Multimedia Group,

said no troops have entered the Nation newsroom or its Thai-language

sister papers: Kom Chad Luek and Krungthep Turakit. When asked

about self-censorship, Pana said, \”We sympathize with the CDRM, so

there is (no need for) self-censorship.\” A Thai Rat reporter

claimed he felt freer to report than before the coup. Bangkok Post

reporters said that, although the CDRM had issued a statement asking

for the media\’s cooperation in reporting news, they had seen no

evidence of pressure to influence the print media.

 

Radio: Large Stations Open, Community Radio Closed

——————————————— —–

 

10. (SBU) Large-scale commercial radio stations continue to operate

in Bangkok. One well-known radio personality noted on air that, in

contrast to past coups, no one tried to review or censor broadcasts.

However, community radio stations have been temporarily banned in

the provinces; local military officials have said this is because

these stations are difficult to monitor and control.

 

Web: Content to be Monitored, Some Critical Postings

——————————————— ——-

 

11. (SBU) According to news posted on a popular web board,

Hansa.com, the Council for Democratic Reform under the

Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) called in all Internet Service

Providers (ISPs) to try to control website content, under threat of

closure. Thus far, the CDRM has not closed any website completely.

The CNN and BBC websites continue to function normally. All of the

major Thai chat sites have announcements posted that the country is

under Martial Law and postings should be \”careful and constructive\”.

The \”Politics Board\” of Pantip.com was shut down yesterday

following an influx of strong anti-coup messages. The board is back

up, and even now, roughly half of the messages are mildly critical

of the coup, although opinions are expressed in a sarcastic way.

Messages include

— I want a PM from an election, not from a gun barrel.

— What will happen to the economy? I bought a lot of shares!!

— How can we go on group tours if they won\’t let us gather more

than 5 people?

— How long will it take for Thais to forget all about this? One

answer: 48 hours or less! Thais forget fast.

— Tanks are drifting to Bangkok! Can they be ticketed for turning

without signaling?

 

12. (SBU) Comment: Post has made our views about the importance of

press freedom clear to General Sonthi and other coup members. Their

response has been to reiterate that there is \”no censorship\” while

acknowledging that some news cutouts are occurring. End comment.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:55 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: