THAILAND: Channel 11 boss gets axe over PM blooper

For third time, the prime minister's weekly live broadcast was delayed on state-run station

Bangkok Post
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The director of state-run Channel 11 television has been removed from the post after a live broadcast of the prime minister's talk programme was delayed for two hours on Sunday.

PM's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey yesterday signed an order for Suriyong Huntasarn to switch places with Rattana Charoensak, director of the Public Relations Office Zone 5 based in Surat Thani province. The transfer order took effect immediately.

Mr Sathit said the swap was to ensure there would be no more problems affecting the live broadcast of the Have Confidence in Thailand programme featuring Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva talking to the nation about current affairs.

The programme is also broadcast on the Public Relations Department's radio network.

The minister said Sunday was the third time the prime minister's programme was affected by technical problems.

The programme, which was being broadcast from Muang Thong Thani on Sunday morning, was delayed for two hours.

The first problem occurred when the show was being broadcast from the Interior Ministry, the second time at Government House, Mr Sathit said. "I don't want to see any repeat mistakes," he said. "It will be greatly damaging if this happens to any broadcast of an event involving royalty."

The minister said he had instructed the authorities responsible to draw up a back-up plan after the second disruption of the programme.

"And this time I have received confusing reports. One blamed faulty uplink equipment while the other said the problem was with the satellite signal.

"What made it worse was that they did not report the problems until the prime minister was almost 10 minutes into the programme.

"I see this as a management failure, not a technical one."

Mr Sathit said the transfer of Mr Suriyong was agreed to by the department's director-general Pachoen Khampo and PM's Office permanent secretary Nathee Premrasami.

He said there was no hidden political agenda behind the transfer of Mrs Rattana from Surat Thani, a political stronghold of the Democrat Party.

Mrs Rattana has 17 years of experience in broadcasting and was qualified to run Channel 11, he said.