Thai viewers claim political interference after soap opera is cancelled

Louise Duffy | 07-01-2013

A row is brewing in Thailand following the decision by Channel 3 to cancel the prime time political soap opera Nua Mek.

The TV channel published a short statement, saying the programme was "inappropriate".

According to the Bangkok Post, Thailand's Democrat Party has called on the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) to establish whether Nua Mek fell foul of broadcasting regulations.

Section 37 of the Broadcast and Telecommunications Operations Act bars broadcast of content that seeks to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, threatens national security or morality, constitutes profanity or harms people's mental or physical health.

Mallika Boonmeetrakul, a Democrat deputy spokeswoman, said it should be clarified, since a Channel 3 executive was reported to have explained verbally to Peerapong Manakit, an NBTC commissioner, that the station decided to cancel Nua Mek because its content breached the law.

But she said the Channel 3 executive had not clearly explained it to the public, and that some even said it was an act of self-censorship for fear of political consequences.

Supinya Klangnarong, an NBTC commissioner for consumer protection, said she disagreed with Channel 3's reasoning that the soap opera might breach Section 37.

Frequent citing of Section 37 would only curtail the freedom of the media to zero or a minus, she added.