Community radio stations promise self-censorship after coup shutdown

Junta silences over 100 community radio stations in Thailand

[Reuters]

BANGKOK: Thailand’s ruling junta has silenced more than 100 community radio stations in the country’s northern and northeastern provinces - where ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was most popular, media reports said yesterday.

Nearly all northern radio stations have been temporarily closed after some broadcast programmes critical of the military’s coup d’Etat, which Tuesday toppled Thaksin.

Another 54 stations have been temporarily closed in the northeastern provinces Roiet and Amnat Charoen, according to The Nation newspaper.

Thaksin’s populist Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party, which won the country’s last two elections with unprecedented majorities, performed best in the country’s northern and northeastern regions, where the vast majority of the rural poor reside.

Late Friday, the first public protest against the coup was staged at a posh Bangkok department store by a score of academics and students. Despite the show of defiance, no arrests were made.

Opinion surveys indicate that more than 80% of the Thai population approved of the coup, primarily because it ended a seven- month-old political impasse.

A small bomb exploded near a mosque in the southern Thai town of Pattani yesterday, wounding four policeman providing security ahead of a royal visit, police said.
The blast occurred about 500m from Pattani’s central mosque which Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, who is on southern tour, was due to visit later, police said.

It was the first bomb attack in the deep south since the Thai military ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup on Tuesday.

The coup, led by army chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin who is a Muslim, has rekindled faint hopes in the Muslim-majority south that he will ease violence in the region.

In the days leading up to the putsch, Sonthi placed himself at direct odds with his political masters on the south, staging a peace rally and proposing talks with the as-yet-unidentified insurgent leaders.

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Broadcasters pledge self-censorship

[via Bangkok Post]

Community radio station operators on Monday appealed to the ruling Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) to lift the ban on their operations.

Some station operators vowed to air only non political programmes. They promised self-censorship to ensure their programmes will not go against CDRM rules, proposing that the military should take decisive actions against them only if they break the rules.

More than 3,000 community radio stations nationwide had their broadcasts halted as the 1997 constitution was dissolved following the CDRM-led coup last Tuesday.

Complaints have been made from time to time that some community radio stations were used as political tools for some individuals, and that their signals interfered with major radio stations and even with aviation radio transmissions.

Petitioning the CDRM at Royal Army Headquarters in Bangkok Monday morning, a group of community radio operators said they wanted to know the Council's policy regarding their operations and at the same time hoped they could broadcast again.

Given that the council has already put the overall situation under control, they said, and had the nation's security under control, the community radios should be allowed to resume their operations as usual, the petitioners said.

Meanwhile in Chiang Mai, members of the Northern community radio federation said they will petition Third Army Commander Tuesday asking for permission to continue operations after the army ordered a temporary halt for all 17 community stations in the North, citing national peace and order requirements as the reason.

In an apparent attempt to win army permission, community radio operators in Chiang Mai and Lampoon initiated a signed pledge that they would not become involved in politics and that their programming would be completely free of politics.

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