Members of Parliament have given their backing to a bill aimed at promoting media ethics and professional standards. The bill was proposed by the Cabinet in the first reading this week, and was deliberated by a joint sitting of MPs and senators.
The bill calls for the establishment of a national council of media professionals for the self-regulation of media organizations in line with the law, international standards and professional ethics. If passed, it would allow employees of state-run media organizations to refuse to carry out instructions from superiors that violate media ethics without fear of punishment.
Pheu Thai Party MP for Bangkok Jirayu Huangsap, however, expressed opposition against the bill, saying a number of legislative sections still needed to be revised, particularly those regarding penalties and the definition of the media.
The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) also issued a statement opposing the bill, arguing that the cabinet tabled the bill to parliament urgently without hearing feedback from concerned parties, particularly members of the media. The association disagrees with the proposal to establish the council, saying it would restrict media freedom.
Responding to Jirayu and the TBJA, Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn said the bill has been properly vetted by senior media members and the Council of State, which is the government’s legal advisory body. He also emphasized that the bill does not contain any content that would allow the government to control the media. (NNT)