20 March 2018

Tonight Thailand

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has ordered the digital television channel Voice TV to suspend broadcasting Tonight Thailand for fifteen days. The NBTC ruled that the programme had violated a ban on criticising the military junta, as it made a comparison to the French Revolution and dwelt on footage of anti-Prayut Chan-o-cha protesters wearing Pinocchio masks. The episode in question was broadcast on 1st March.

The regulator also issued warnings over another Tonight Thailand episode, broadcast on Boxing Day; and a different show, Wake Up Thailand, broadcast on 5th March, in which Piyabutr Saengkanokkul argued that Thais should not accept the country's repeated military takeovers. Voice TV is owned by Panthongthae Shinawatra, son of Thaksin Shinawatra. (Both Thaksin and his sister, Yingluck, were deposed by military coups.)

Another Voice TV programme, The Daily Dose, was suspended last year. A similar channel, Peace TV, was temporarily shut down earlier this year, in 2017, and 2016; its licence was revoked in 2015, though that ruling was later overturned on appeal. When Prayut (unconstitutionally) declared martial law in 2014, the military closed down ten satellite television stations.