Thai Journalists Face Threats to Freedom

A “media barometer” study for 2010 shows Thailand’s freedom of expression remains curbed by laws such as the Internal Security Act and lese majeste law. This does not include widespread self-censorship and a climate of fear within society.

The Asian Media Barometer survey, whose results were released yesterday, pointed out that such laws were implemented and applied in ways that contravened the letter and spirit of the constitution. The survey was conducted by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung among media professionals and activists.

The growing political polarisation and violent clashes over recent years have brought media reform to a halt and replaced freedom of expression with self-censorship, the survey says.

The barometer concluded that while Thai citizens and journalists still asserted the right to freedom of expression, they had a palpable degree of fear. “They think twice about criticising powerful institutions such as the judiciary or the monarchy,” the survey stated.

It added that in this climate of fear journalists increasingly reverted to self-censorship driven by political pressure, business competition and the behaviour of media owners.

According to the study, the Thai media landscape includes 524 mainstream radio broadcasters, some 8,000 community radio stations, six terrestrial TV stations, 30 satellite TV operators, 800 cable TV operators and 80 newspaper titles, of which 25 are national, two are English, two are Chinese and one in Melayu.

There are 28 internet service providers and eight wireless communication service providers. Radio and TV are accessible to 95% of the population.


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