'Govt gag' provokes workers at TITV
Journalists told to toe the line in news coverage
Several TITV employees yesterday lodged a complaint with the Thai Broadcast Journalists' Association against "government officials" dictating to them not to produce any news reports that ran counter to government policies.
The statement said government officials attended every news briefing to make sure no news content conflicted with the government's interests.
It is the first time TITV has protested publicly about the junta-installed government's reportedly close control over programming produced by the station, which was once owned by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
When it was iTV, before Thaksin was toppled by the military coup on September 19, it was known for siding with him, and it was taken over by the government last month.
The staff did not explicitly name the government agencies sending the officials but said the strict policy had begun to be enforced about a month ago when political frictions became particularly heated.
The officials threatened to use "drastic measures" against TITV if their orders to carry "one-sided" messages on news programmes were not followed, the TITV workers said.
"TITV insists on its media professionalism that gives all sides appearing on its programmes the right to express their opinions freely and impartially," the statement said.
TBJA chairman Thakerng Somsab said he would discuss the matter with the board and start an investigation into the case soon. He also said he supported TITV staff in setting up a non-aligned committee to supervise its editorial board.
Janthima Cheuysa-nguan, a deputy director-general of the Public Relations Department, which now oversees TITV, said TITV had been instructed to produce content "that was useful to the public" and to "avoid causing social conflicts that would lead to differing opinions that could potentially result in violent acts" through its coverage and reports.
She said TITV had aired a programme during which a caller expressed anger with a law that had been passed.
"People could easily have misunderstood the [legislative] process or content of that law if they had no legal knowledge," she said.