The scholar activist nexus a case study of the thai media policy
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The Scholar-Activist Nexus : a Case Study of the Thai Media Policy . Pirongrong Ramasoota. Outline. The role of scholar-activist nexus in the Thai media reform movement Campaigning and lobbying for structural reform of radio frequencies

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The Scholar-Activist Nexus :a Case Study of the Thai Media Policy

Pirongrong Ramasoota


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Outline

  • The role of scholar-activist nexus in the Thai media reform movement

    • Campaigning and lobbying for structural reform of radio frequencies

      • New social movement that sparked the constitutional debate on radio frequency and that finally led to the promulgation of Article 40 in the 1997 Constitution

    • Monitoring the course of the reform and self-martyring

      • the Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR)

    • Advocacy through research, public education, and networking

      • Thai MPAC, MPC


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New Social Movement

  • Coup d’etat 1991 > Black May 1992

  • Political Reform + Media Reform

    1997 ‘People’s’ Constitution


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Radio ownership structure

Radio

Name of orgs No of radio stations

Public Relations Department (PRD) 145

Army 128

Navy 21

Air Force 36

Police 44

MCOT 62

House of Parliament 16

Others 71

Total 523


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Television ownership structure

Name of orgs No. of TV stations PRD 9

Army 2

MCOT 5

Ministry of 1

PM’s Office


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Constitutional Debate

  • Public VS National resources

  • The term “public” implies that the owner of the radio frequency and the spectrum are the general public or the people who are the highest sovereign of a democratic nation-state.

  • On the contrary, the term “national” in the Thai authoritarian context implies the sovereignty of the state over the people.


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Counter Reform

  • The military viewed radio frequencies as a national resource that implied the exclusive rights of ownership and management by the state and its security agencies.


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Article 40

  • “The radio frequencies for radio and television transmission, and in radio communications are national resources to be used for public interests

  • An independent state regulatory agency must be set up to supervise the assignment and licensing of frequencies for radio and television broadcasting and for telecommunications stipulated in clause one of this article

  • The objectives of clause two must take into consideration the highest public intersts at the national and local levels, in the area of education, culture, security and public safety and other public benefits, including free and fair competition.”


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Media Reform Movement

  • The scholar/activist reformers were also able to push for the inclusion of four important points in the organic law of article 40 – the Frequency Allocation, National Broadcasting Commission, National Telecommunications Commission Act 2000


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Media Reform Movement

  • The four points include:

    • Two independent regulatory bodies for broadcasting and telecommunications

    • Three classifications of broadcast services

      • Public/state service

      • Private/commercial service

      • Community service

    • 20% of radio frequencies be allocated to the people’s sector – community radio and TV

    • The democratic participation of related sectors in the selection of NBC candidates


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Proposed vision of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)

  • Deregulation > Open structure

  • Reregulation > Ownership reform

    Democratization of

    Broadcast Media Structure


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The Campaign for the Popular Media Reform (CPMR)

  • The CPMR was originally known as the working group to follow the implementation of Article 40.

  • CPMR’s founding members came from key staff of the Thai Volunteers Foundation, a famous civil liberty NGO, and a group of progressive minded media scholars, led by Professor Ubonrat Siriyuvasak of Chulalngkorn University.


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Uncovering discrepancy in the NBC selection process

  • During the selection process of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), following the enactment of the Frequency Allocation Act, a CPMR member detected conflicts of interest between members of the NBC Selection Committee and the applicants. The case was brought to the Administrative Court which finally ruled the selection process as unlawful and stalled the final step of the process.


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The NBC that is not to be….

  • Both rounds of NBC selection process, in 2001 and 2004 failed due to conflicts of interest between selection committee and final candidates.

  • The post-coup government (September 2006 – February 2008) stalled the third round of selection while the junta-appointed legislature wrote a new constitution which in effect merged broadcast and telecommunications regulator into one single entity.


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Article 47 of the 2007 Constitution

  • There shall be an independent regulatory body having the duty to distribute the frequencies under paragraph one and supervise radio or television broadcasting and telecommunication business, ensure free and fair competition, and encourage the public to participate in management of public communication facilities.


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Self-martyring: Shin Corporation V. Thai Post and Supinya Klangnarong

Secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR) Supinya Klangnarong and The Thai Post newspaper were sued for defamation by Shin Corporation for the comment Supinya allegedly made about the conflict of interest between Shin Corporation and the Thaksin-led government.Supinya was acquitted in March 2006, but after international spotlights were cast on the issue as an exemplary case of the “chilling effect.”


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Emerging scholar/activist nexus in Thailand

  • Thai Media Policy Advocacy Center (Thai MPAC)

  • Media Policy Center (MPC)

  • Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)


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Thai Media Policy Advocacy Center(Thai MPAC)

  • Thai MPAC was founded in 2006 as a collaboration between Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University and Internews Network, an international NGO that has worked in more than 70 countries around the world to improve access to information and to promote open communications policies.


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About Thai-MPAC

  • Thai MPAC activities include:

    • Public information

    • Advocacy

    • Research

    • Conferences and Seminars


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Thai MPAC’s activities

  • Thai MPAC has a website (www.thaimpac.net) that will disseminate current news and information on relevant issues. Original news and articles by Thai MPAC’s contributors will be published on the website and available for download. Thai MPAC’s contributing writers are media law specialists, academics and journalists who are knowledgeable in such areas as policy formulation and advocacy, broadcast and telecommunications laws and regulation, and freedom of the press.


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Thai-MPAC conferences and seminars

  • At least one international conference and four national seminars have been organized by Thai MPAC in the past two years on these issues:

    • Internet freedom

    • Convergence and communications regulation

    • New media laws and implications on freedom of expression

    • The implementation of the new computer crime bill on cyber-dissidence

    • Community radio and regulatory challenges


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Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

  • Founded by a former English literature scholar from Thammasart University

  • Became a sister NGO of CPMR

  • Advocates against all forms of censorship but with a main focus on Internet censorship

  • Activities range from campaigning, protesting, petitions, to lawsuits



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