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Thirty media organizations have demanded the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) to scrap a bill proposed by a panel to the assembly seeking to rein in the media and to restrict freedom of the media.
Representatives of the 30 media bodies met on Sunday at the Thai Journalists Association office to discuss the bill called, Promotion of Media Freedom, Ethics and Media Professional Standard, and to map out a joint strategy to fight against the controversial bill.
Thepchai Yong, president of Broadcast Media Journalists Association, said after the meeting that the 30 media organizations were unanimous in their opposition against the bill and wanted the NRSA to scrap the bill.
He said the 30 media bodies agreed that the bill was not based on the principle of free expressions and respect of media freedom but, instead, sought to pave the way for state interference in the performance of duty of the media and to restrict press freedom.
Under the bill, a media steering committee will be formed with four of the 13 committee seats to be reserved for permanent secretaries from the Finance, Culture, Digital for Economy and Society, and PM’s Office. On top of that the four permanent secretaries who represent the government can appoint two more committee members from the academia.
Since it is a wellknown fact that permanent secretaries are normally handpicked by politicians from ruling parties, media organizations will be placed under the supervision of politicians or their parties, rendering the media unable to perform their watchdog role, said Thepchai.
And also because the media steering committee is authorized to issue press cards for journalists and to make rules to supervise the media, media freedom will be restricted and weakened and this will affect the public’s access to information in the future, said Thepchai.