THAILAND: FM92.25 continuing to defy ban on broadcasting

Community radio station's signal continues to interfere with mainstream and television programs, says Public Relations Department

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The operators of Bangkok's 92.25 MHz community radio station are defying the Public Relations Department's order banning its transmissions. The department issued a written order on Sept 20, banning the station's broadcasts from its studio at TPI Tower in Sathon district, saying the signal interfered with mainstream radio and television programmes. The operators said they were targeted because they dared to criticise the government.

Officials searched the studio on Aug 9-10 and issued a verbal instruction for it to shut down. However, the operators continued broadcasting on their website, and on other community stations.

The operators argued that controls on community radio did not rest with the department but with the National Broadcasting Commission.

In Chiang Rai, three community radio stations have been closed for interfering with aeronautical radio transmissions. They are FM89.50 in Muang district and FM104.5 and FM105 stations in Mae Sai.

Prayoon Samutarasin, head of a local community radio club, wants authorities to explain how community radio could affect aeronautical radio.

Meanwhile, the government has reacted strongly to National Reconciliation Commission chairman Anand Panyarachun's charge that some state-run media outlets have tried to put the commission in a bad light by distorting its comments.

Prime Minister's Office Minister Suranand Vejjajiva said Mr Anand's comment was improper and he should be more specific in his accusations.

Some programmes on state-run radio or television may have aired personal opinions. But these views were totally separate from the government's stand on the issues, he said.

The minister defended television and radio talk shows moderated by former Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej and former senator Dusit Siriwan, saying they took responsibility for their comments.

The programmes were often criticised for broadcasting statements favouring the government and directing one-sided attacks against third parties.

Mr Suranand said the government did not treat the Samak-Dusit talk show any differently than the Thailand Weekly programme run by veteran journalist Sondhi Limthongkul, which was recently suddenly dropped by Channel 9, run by MCOT Plc, a state enterprise. The programme was often critical of the government.

Mr Sondhi and media advocates have accused the government of being behind the order to terminate his programme.