By Praphasri Osathanon
The National Reform Council (NRC) yesterday endorsed a report on media reform and a draft law on the protection of press freedom proposed by its panel on media and information technology reform.
The report covers three media reform issues, namely media regulation, press freedom and responsibilities, as well as prevention from interference and dominance. This report will be submitted along with the draft law to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for further consideration.
The NRC passed the report with 107:10 votes and the draft law with 167:20 votes.
Wasan Phaileeklee, vice chair of the committee, said the NRC had reviewed problems related to the media and had come up with these reform proposals.
He added that ensuring press freedom comes with responsibilities, hence the committee has proposed a new legal and educational structure to protect press freedom and promote media ethics. A new professional standard of practice has also been proposed.
To prevent possible interference and dominance, a new law as well as a public monitoring and scrutiny mechanism had been proposed. Self-regulation would also be promoted. The committee also proposed the setting up of a professional media council as a regulatory body as well as a public mechanism to support the work.
The NRC members took turns debating media regulation, and mainly questioned the composition of the council as well as its financial support.
As for setting up a council to promote self-regulation, it will be financed by the Finance Ministry, state agencies as well as public donations. However, some NRC members wondered if this form of financing would ensure its independence.
Some NRC members also voiced concern about “fake” media, saying there should be a mechanism in place to scrutinise and get rid of them. They proposed a professional registration system along with penalties.
Wasan said the committee would take all suggestions into account when reviewing the report and draft law before forwarding them to the government. The NRC members will be given another seven days to study more recommendations, he said.