Published on October 15, 2007
The People Power Party yesterday threatened legal action against the Television Advertising Censorship Board after it refused on Friday to sanction a party message.
The board told the party it first needed Election Commission (EC) approval for the campaign spot.
Party secretary-general Surapong Suebwonglee yesterday said it would ask for board approval again today. If refused, it will go to court.
He argued that while an Election Act has been announced, the law would take effect only following a royal decree setting a poll date.
"The board might be misunderstanding this point, but it cannot use misunderstanding as a legal excuse,'' he said.
He said the party submitted the ad for approval on Friday and the board rejected it with the recommendation for commission sanction. He insisted the party would not approach the commission.
Party leader Samak Sundaravej addressed supporters on Friday at Sanam Luang and spoke out against the decision, saying it was totally unfair.
Surapong called on the government to accept responsibility for damage incurred by the party in fines paid to television stations for booking advertising time but being unable to provide them with content.
The one-minute television spot is produced by How Come Entertainment. It highlights populist policies of the former Thai Rak Thai Party, including the Bt30 universal-healthcare scheme and the war on drugs. The ad producers followed regulations governing media buying, he said.
Surapong believed the ad gave voters "hope and confidence" in the coming election. "The content does not throw mud at anyone or compromise national security. We see no reason why this spot is banned from broadcast."
He said other parties had advertised for months. The rejection was "unfair" to People Power. He added he was unaware of the identities of the board members.
Following the setback, the party will post the ad on its website ppp.or.th and distribute it on compact disc and in other forms.
EC member Sodsri Satayathum questioned the board's decision.
"Commission ads promoting the national referendum had to receive board approval. The board is authorised to decide if ads are against the law," she said.
"As yet the commission has not been contacted about the People Power spots. The election decree is not effective and the commission cannot see why it should have to view the ad.
"When the decree is effective, political parties will have the right to advertise their policies on television."
Sodsri said the EC would announce election and campaign regulations once the election decree is issued. Political parties can advertise however they like as long as they do not break those regulation or advertising-related laws.
Public Relations Depart-ment director-general Pramoj Rathavinij said the department was officially uninvolved.
The department delegated decisions on ads to station ethics boards. If they are unable to decide on appropriateness, they approach the department.
Pramoj said he had unofficially asked television station boards about a Democrat Party spot.
He said this situation would change after the passage of the decree when the department would meet with the commission to learn of its campaign regulations.