BANGKOK: Two Thai television channels affiliated to the opposition Red Shirt movement will be taken off air for seven days for “violating” junta orders, an official said Tuesday, in the latest strike against freedom of expression in the military-ruled kingdom.
The country’s sharply polarized political channels were one of the first casualties of the censorship imposed following the declaration of martial law and the coup last May.
But a ban on them was lifted around three months later on the condition they stayed clear of politics.
Suspension letters are being drafted for Peace TV, which features a daily program by Red Shirts chairman Jatuporn Prompan, and 24 News, a senior official at Thai broadcasting authority the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) told AFP.
“NTC has decided to suspend the license for two television channels for seven days on the grounds they violated junta announcements,” said the official, who declined to be named, without elaborating on the nature of the violation.
“The suspension will begin as soon as they receive the official notification letter,” he said.
On his mid-morning program Tuesday, Jatuporn said military officials who monitor the show had accused him of causing “divisions and misunderstandings”.
“They allege that my speech has incited unrest. I want to ask are there any people going out and protesting against the authorities?”
The Red Shirts, officially known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), back the toppled government of former premier Yingluck Shinawatra.
Post-coup, their leaders have either renounced the cause, fled into self-exile or—like Jatuporn —agreed to abandon politics.