Bangkok Thiland: 26 community radio stations shut down
Using the emergency decree, authorities have recently shut down 26
community-radio stations in nine provinces and pressured six others to
discontinue their services.
As many as 84 community-radio stations have been blacklisted and their
activities closely monitored in the latest round of political unrest. At
least 35 people related to these media outlets - like radio hosts, station
chiefs and executives - are already facing legal action for allegedly
mobilising their listeners to the red-shirt rally in Bangkok, for
broadcasting what was going on at the rally site and for distorting
"However, there are no clear details to substantiate these charges,"
Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR) secretary-general Suthep
Wilailert said yesterday.
He was speaking at a seminar about the fate of community radio stations
under the state of emergency.
CPMR organised the seminar under its Community Radio Watch project, which
has received support from the Heinrich Boll Foundation.
Suthep said the authorities had in many cases threatened the community
radio stations because sometimes up to 200 soldiers turned up in full
force to seize their equipment.
In Ubon Ratchathani, some 200 officials showed up to shut down a community
radio station. In Chiang Mai, up to 500 officials were deployed to close
down another community radio station.
Suthep said some of these officials were even carrying machine guns.
According to him, some community radio stations continued to operate but
with much restriction. For example, they have to put up a board saying,
"No comments on political situation" to remind their staff to not cause
trouble for the stations.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) supervises community
radio stations, but with the emergency decree in place, security agencies
have the mandate to intervene.
"If national security is involved, the immediate closure of a community
radio station is possible," Dr Surat Metheekhul of NTC said.
However, he said NTC would look into complaints about alleged unfair
National Federation of Community Radio Station secretary-general Wicharn
Oun-ok said the hosts of community radio stations tended to speak in
laymen's language and made casual remarks the way people did in their
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