NCPO To Clarify New Press Censorship Measures With Media Bosses

Gen. Udomdet Sittabutr says the military junta will respect the media if the media respects the junta.

BANGKOK — The Thai military junta will convene a meeting with directors of news agencies to clarify its heightened measure to monitor the media, said a leading member of the junta.

Gen. Udomdet Sittabutr said he has been personally tasked by junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to meet with the media representatives and "create understanding."

The junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) annouced yesterday that it has formed five special committees to monitor national and international news coverage across different types of media. 

According to Pol.Gen. Adul Saengsingkaew, chief of the Royal Thai Police and NCPO's deputy chairman, TV and radio media will be monitored by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), print media by the Special Branch Police, online media by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and foreign media by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Pol.Gen. Adul claimed the measure is needed to suppress "false information" and news reports that insult the monarchy.

"If the media respects the NCPO, the NCPO will respect the media in return," said NCPO sec-gen Gen. Udomdet at a "happiness" concert held today at Siam Paragon shopping mall. The concert was one of many free events organized by the NCPO over the past few weeks in the name of "promoting happiness and reconciliation" among the Thai people.

Yesterday's announcement of increased censorship measures came amid reports that soldiers were dispatched to the headquarters of a Bangkok newspaper after it printed news about an anti-coup organisation set up in exile by two fugitive politicians. 

Manop Thip-osot, spokesperson and vice president of the Thai Journalist Association (TJA), said today that the visit was meant to discourage the news agency from publishing any stories about anti-coup movements. He said the TJA is greatly concerned by the incident and that the Association has already discussed the issue with the NCPO.

Gen. Udomdet, the NCPO's sec-gen, did not say when the meeting with media representatives will take place, but promises that it will be an opportunity for the press to freely pose questions to the military.

The NCPO will also use the opportunity to inform media about what it has accomplished over the past month as the country's administrative regime. 

"I am satisfied by the NCPO's works in the past month. We will continue to do our best," Gen. Udomdet told reporters.

Since staging the coup against the elected government on 22 May, the NCPO has banned public protests against the regime, detained scores of activists, and censored the media — mostly by warning them not to publish any criticism about the NCPO or its missions.

 

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