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Satellite TV stations agree to end politicised reporting of news

Aug 25. 2014
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By Kris Bhromsuthi
Pravit Roja

Many will also change their name to end memories of conflict, division

TWELVE satellite TV channels have been allowed by the junta to start broadcasting again next week – after signing agreements to de-politicise their content. The channels have been off the air since the May 22 coup.

Some of the channels are well-known political-oriented satellite stations, such as the yellow-shirt ASTV, Democrat Party-backed Blue Sky and red-shirt Asia Update, said they were satisfied by the terms and conditions laid down by the junta. 
Most of them even agreed to change their name in a move to end memories about their role in provoking political conflict or national division. 
The channels allowed to start broadcasting also include MV5, DNN, UDD, P&P, 4 Channel, FMTV, Hot TV, Rescue TV and Student and People Network for Reforming Thailand Channel.
ASTV, which will now be known as News TV, still plans to focus intensely on news, but there will be some adjustments as per their agreement with the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), ASTV’s programme adviser Panthep Puapongpan said. 
The channel is allowed to criticise the NCPO and the government, provided the criticism is based on facts and information, he said. The channel will also cover other subjects like health instead of just politics. In addition, he said, there would also be a new programme on the ongoing reforms, which aims to contribute useful ideas in important areas such as energy, education and politics. 
Takerng Somsup, director of Fah Wun Mai (formerly Blue Sky), said his channel would broadcast food shows, as well as documentaries in order to fill the space left by programmes that won’t be shown any longer. 
The channel will also broadcast a show on reforms, in which competitors will get to offer the best ideas, he said. 
Takerng said the channel’s reporting style would be adjusted to comply with NCPO’s framework. He added that it would also avoid directly criticising the NCPO, the government or political opponents, and focus instead on reporting facts and information. 
“The mood of the country has changed. Nobody wants to hear destructive remarks or comments any more.  They want to hear about reform and reconciliation,” he said.
Warut Thunhasukont, managing director of pro-red-shirt Asia Update TV station – now been named Open TV, welcomed the chance to go back on air again. 
He said the station would comply with the agreement to not present news or shows that deepen the divide in society. 
When asked how the station could properly report or analyse politics when such national politics is essentially about conflict, Warut acknowledged the difficulty, but said his station would observe other channels to see how they go about covering politics. 
“It’s difficult to present political news without touching on ongoing conflicts,” he said. Asked if the station would focus on junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Warut said the focus would be on scrutinising the government as a whole, not Prayuth in particular. 
The broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecom-munications Commission yesterday announced conditions for the 12 satellite TV channels to apply for a new licence to resume broadcasting next week. 
The channels will need to apply for a new licence as Pay TV and comply with the NCPO’s condition that they would broadcast no content that affects national security and the social divide by signing a memorandum of understand with the NBTC.
Natee Sukonrat, chairman of NBTC’s broadcasting committee, said all the channels will be granted a new licence under the new name before going on air. 

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