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New guidelines for reporters at PM briefings restrictive: TJA

Feb 16. 2016
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By Anapat Deechuay,
Juthathip Lu

Government spokespersons have come up with new guidelines for media questions at Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s regular weekly press briefing.
Journalists can now ask a maximum of four questions of importance each week. They must also use the microphone to announce themselves and the organisations they represent, Deputy Government spokesperson Col Thaksada Sangkhachan said.
Thaksada said the premier acknowledged the new guidelines before leaving for this week’s US-Asean summit in the United States. She said the guidelines weren’t aimed at limiting the core functions of the media but at facilitating equal access for every agency equally.
Government spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd told The Nation that the guidelines were drawn up after feedback received from several stakeholders. The feedback included remarks about poor behaviour by some journalists during the briefings, he added.
Sansern said the premier and other officials were unhappy with reporters’ manners and repeated queries. He claimed that, in contrast, while interviewing foreign sources the journalists became poised, polite, and organised, introducing themselves in a professional manner before asking a question.
“I just wonder why they [the journalists] don’t follow the same practice when interviewing the PM, their leader.” Sansern said. 
Thai Journalists Association (TJA) spokesman Manop Tip-osod yesterday told The Nation that the new guidelines restricted journalists’ rights to ask questions for the public.
“It is not fair,” said Manop, adding that journalists should not have to declare their names or those of their organisations either. This new practice would have a psychological impact that meant journalists might fear asking controversial questions. They could be subjected to a witch-hunt if they asked questions deemed critical of authorities, Manop said.
However, the TJA would hold off taking any action on the matter. 
Manop said it came as no surprise that the military-installed government had approved the new measure. 
Journalists at yesterday’s briefing apparently failed to stick to the guidelines and asked Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan more than the four questions stipulated.

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