Channel 3 Under Pressure to Pull Convicted Host Sorayuth

Sorayuth Suthassanachinda begins the Tuesday edition of his Morning News show by reporting on his own conviction.

BANGKOK — Pressure mounted today on the management of Channel 3 after its most famous TV presenter returned to the airwaves one day after being convicted of embezzling millions of baht from a previous employer.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission on Tuesday said they asked representatives of one of the kingdom’s most-watched broadcasters to appear March 7 after news host Sorayuth Suthassanachinda was sentenced to 13 years in prison for cheating a state-owned channel of more than 138 million baht in advertisement revenues.

Sorrayuth this morning appeared on his immensely popular Morning News and began the show to say he would appeal the verdict on behalf of his Rai Som media firm that was implicated in bilking MCOT for unreported advertising revenues.

“Rai Som company and myself, who are the defendants in this case that the Criminal Court has sentenced, respect the court verdict,” Sorayuth said after concluding a report on his own conviction. “The company and I will exercise our rights in accordance with the justice system to fight our case by appealing.”

 

 

Late Tuesday afternoon the Thai Broadcast Journalist Association issued a statement urging Channel 3 to at least take Sorayuth of the air until the appeal process has run its course.

“The verdict of the primary court in accordance with the justice system proved that there was enough evidence Sorayuth was involved in corruption and guilty in both criminal and ethical aspects,” it wrote. “Hence society expects that Channel 3 will show responsibility and be a model for media ethics.”

Channel 3 on Monday announced after a meeting of its board that it would continue to support Sorayuth, who has been one of its most recognizable faces for 12 years.

Acting Director Surin Krittayapongphan said Sorayuth’s crime occurred before he worked for the station and said the court’s verdict could not be considered final because it was under appeal.

“From now on, Channel 3 must listen to criticism and evaluate the public’s reaction,” he said.

Though the authorities currently have no power to order Sorayuth off the air, one of the broadcasting commissioners, Supinya Klangnarong, said she believed Sorayuth should take a break.

Worse than any legal threat, Supinya said, will be the social pressure exerted on the broadcaster.

 

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