By JEERAPONG PRASERTPOLKRUNG
THE GOVERNMENT and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) have encouraged political rivals to take part in their new TV programme entitled "Moving Reform Forward".
The participating politicians are to express their views on how the country should be reformed.
The focus now is on two former prime ministers from the country’s two largest political parties. They are Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, and Yingluck Shinawatra, a key figure from the Pheu Thai Party. The NCPO’s Centre for Reconciliation and Reform is seeking to have both Abhisit and Yingluck join their programme.
Abhisit attended the programme’s recording on Monday and the episode was broadcast last night . Yingluck has not commented publicly as to whether she wants to join the programme on national reform. However, some sources from her political party said the former premier was unlikely to take part.
This new programme reflects an attempt by the government’s public relations team and the NCPO to attract more viewers. There have been some adjustments recently to their existing programmes – “Returning Happiness to the Thai People” featuring a national address by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha every Friday night and “Moving Thailand Forward” that appears every evening at 6pm.
Although both programmes are broadcast nationwide on all major TV channels, their viewership has been unsatisfactory. This is possibly due to boring content and an stagnant format. Many people simply turned off their TV sets or muted the sound during the programmes.
However, there have been attempts by the government’s PR team to make changes and attract more viewership.
For the Friday night programme, in addition to the prime minister, other Cabinet members are taking part to talk about their performances.
The daily evening programme has also seen a lot of changes recently. It pays more attention to hot topics and the current talk around town. Some episodes feature hosts who are Cabinet members or senior bureaucrats, instead of professional emcees. Just recently, the programme’s guest was Kiatisuk Senamuang, the national football team’s head coach, who talked about his work.
A member of the PR team admitted that the viewership of the programmes is not high when compared to popular TV shows like drama series, variety or game shows. The PR team is well aware of this fact and is finding it difficult to change viewers’ habits, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
However, a more difficult problem for the PR team is to get certain Cabinet members to appear in their TV programmes. It is taking much effort and patience before those government ministers will agree to come on the programmes. And some of them are not sufficiently eloquent.
There are also some Cabinet members who have deliberately avoided appearing.
Each time they were invited to join the programmes, they often assigned other people to turn up on their behalf. A problem like this has caused headaches for the PR team, who just hopes the prime minister will instruct his Cabinet members to cooperate better, a source from the PR team said.
Instead of looking out for guests, the government and the NCPO should first make sure their people are cooperative in explaining on TV about their performance. This is just one of many concerns of the people doing the PR work for the government and the NCPO.