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Idea for media profession bill proposed

Mar 22. 2016
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By Wasamon Audjarint
The Nation

An idea to develop a media profession bill - including media licensing and registration - was proposed to key members of the National Reform Steering Assembly and the National Legislative Assembly on Monday.
“The bill could be essential to drive media reform in the era of fear from this [politically] abnormal situation,” said Alongkorn Ponlaboot, NRSA vice chairman, after receiving the proposal with NLA mass media subcommittee chairman ACM Chalee Chanruang.
The development of the bill, seen as a rare move by media practitioners, was led by the Petchaburi Mass Media Association with the support of a number of media practitioners upcountry.
Petchaburi Mass Media Association chairman Surapol Naknakorn told the Nation that the bill could pave the way for a legitimate media licensing system, which could help protect the benefits of individual media practitioners and the industry as a whole.
Surapol said at present there was no standard for media practices and as such the quality of media work was not guaranteed, while media practitioners’ work benefits were also not guaranteed. 
He said the licences required under the bill would establish a work standard and assure the public of a certain quality while media members, especially those working upcountry, would have their work benefits guaranteed in exchange for having improved qualifications and work quality.
Holders of the licences, he said, must prove that they have a qualification that meets the standard. For instance, their reports must be well-rounded and not biased.
 “Through this screening and certification, the licence-holders’ work quality and accountability would be kept on par, rather than depending on subjective requirements from their offices,” he said.
In return, he said having the licence would give the holder bargaining power for reasonable wages and social security benefits. That would particularly be the case for stringers and journalists working upcountry.
Surapol said new media organisations should be established in accordance with the bill to help regulate members via licensing.
An ethics committee should also be set up to help regulate the industry and maintain codes of conducts within media fields.
Codes of conduct should also be addressed in the bill, he added.
Surapol said the idea for the bill was inspired by a engineering profession law, in which a council was set up to regulate the industry and a moral committee established to penalise wrongdoers.
He said although the engineering profession bill was open to state officials to take part in, he downplayed state officials’ potential role in the media profession. It would depend on how media members designed the licensing system, he said.
It would not result in the state infringing on the media, he said. 
The NRSA has been working on media reform following the work of the now-defunct National Reform Council. It is also focusing on self regulation but has different details.
Chalee, the NLA mass media subcommittee chairman, said the NRSA should discuss the media bill idea first before the NLA could take further action.
Meanwhile, Confederation of Thai Journalists president Thepchai Yong called on the media to pay special attention to corruption cases, with investigative coverage for all alleged corruption cases, no matter the size.
Thepchai, group editor in chief at the Nation Multimedia Group, called on the public and the media not to admire people who were wealthy as a result of corruption, such as some politicians. 
“It is often that the media admire them but do not present another side of their stories,” he said. “The media should take up the leading role in creating public awareness against corrupt individuals.”
He was speaking at a seminar at the National Anti-Corruption Commission titled “The media, a significant mechanism and the country’s survival to transparent society”.
He praised the media for fiercely investigating Rai Som Co’s Bt139 million embezzlement of MCOT advertising revenue.
“It is a good case in point. The media wants society to act and inaction is not acceptable,” he said.

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