It is undeniable that the press has played an important role in local politics during recent years. Media Monitor Scheme has drawn up an analysis on how the press has been doing and on the degree of political intervention in the media.
According to Media Monitor Scheme Manager Tham Chuasathapanasiri, Media Monitor had been studying contents of television programmes during the past six years from 2005 to 2010. From over 50 studies, 16 were conducted on politics. It was found that political news reports in Thailand were concentrated on elections, demonstrations, clashes and election campaigns. Most of the news contents were about parliamentary politics, not civil ones.
Regarding media intervention, in late 2005 the government of ex-Prime Minister Police Lieutenant Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra used marketing, political influence and capital to interfere the press while the government of ex-Prime Minister General Surayud Chulanont tried to regulate the media by issuing various media laws after the coup d’état. The government of ex-Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was straightforward with the press as he made verbal counters against journalists directly via interviews and his own weekly television shows. No significant media intervention was seen during the government of ex-Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat due to frequent political protests and violence. The recent government under ex-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva requested cooperation from the press in their news presentation while illegal community radio stations were closed down during his administration.
During the past six years, governments used different ways to interfere the press ranging from use of capital influence, state authority and advertising to owning a press agency themselves. Some television stations were acting as bastions of political parties while new media were established during this period.
As for contents in free television programmes, opinions were included in news talk programmes while majority of the news presented were incomplete and lacked balance or fairness. Regardless of administrations, in the past six years the government side had been dominating the press. After 2006-2007, cable television stations were established with specialty in political news content upon dim hope in free television stations.
Continue to the second part of this special report for the complete analysis of the media movement in Thailand in the past six years.