Thai media hit back against ban on ‘fearmongering’ news as Covid surges
Representatives of six media associations on Friday met with government officials to express concern over new restrictions which ban media from disseminating information that incites fear or may affect national stability.
The new restrictions allow officials to block reports that cause fear, even if they are true.
Representatives from the National Press Council, News Broadcasting Council, Thai Journalists Association, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, Society for Online News Provider Association and National Union of Journalists Thailand visited Government House on Friday to express Thai media’s opposition to the ban.
The new restrictions were issued under Article 9 of the emergency decree and came into effect after being published in the Royal Gazette on Friday.
Critics have slammed the ban as a way of criminalising criticism of the government’s policies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the six media associations called on the government to lift restrictions on media freedom imposed under the emergency decree. In a joint statement, they acknowledged that a small number of media agencies occasionally present inaccurate news but said “their actions were not the result of any intentional plot to disseminate falsehoods or cause damage to society, as is often alleged by the government and its information officers”.
“We call upon all professionals in the media and news agencies to stand united and oppose the government’s new measures,” added the statement.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the new order would plug a hole in laws against misinformation and was not intended to limit free expression of the media. He also invited media figures to discuss points in the new restrictions they were concerned about.