By The Nation
ACCUSING THE media of failing on its promise of “self-control”, the government will study laws in different democratic countries to see how the media is regulated, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday.
He said authorities are particularly concerned over distortion of information in the media and the sector needed to be regulated, even in democratic countries.
“Let’s look at foreign countries that are democratic. Don’t just cite democracy and [say] you can’t control one another. I am seeing what countries have comparative laws. Don’t just say that they don’t have any,” he said.
“Then, we will see what is appropriate for us. Are we going to have no such a law at all? Let’s find it out later.”
The PM was responding to mounting opposition by media groups against a planned law to control the sector, with the creation of a professional council which would have the power to register new media outlets and ban journalists from the profession.
He said that under the current practice, media groups had no legal power to control wayward members.
“I asked you to do the self-control and you said you had no power. Now I will give you power and you don’t want it. You don’t allow bureaucrats in [the proposed media council]. You say you will have self-control. How can you do that?
“How will you issue orders when offences are committed?” Prayut asked.
He also said that it was unlikely that media groups would punish publishers or senior editors who were colleagues of the groups’ executive members.
“If you can deal with them, I will leave you alone. There is a lot of confusion and distortion in our country. How can you tackle this problem, please let me know,” the PM said.
“If the current system works without any problem, I will never bother with you. Am I meddling with you these days?” he said.
Meanwhile, the media reform committee in the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) yesterday failed to reach an accord on whether to revise its proposed media regulatory bill.
The panel resolved to convene again next Tuesday to further discuss the matter, its chairman ACM Kanit Suwannet said.
He said his panel only resolved to maintain the draft law’s title but that it remained undecided about other areas of possible review.
Earlier, NSRA whips suggested six areas of possible review in the draft law, including changes in the composition of the media council to not specifically require permanent secretaries from four ministries, with more members from the media and civic sectors to be represented instead.
Kanit said yesterday that his panel would also hold public hearings with media representatives in its review of the original draft.