Thursday, March 15, 2007

Deconstructing Suthichai Yoon: Urges Reform for Thai Media, But None for The Nation


iTV debacle could be PM's media reform chance

Suthichai Yoon

Is Premier Surayud Chulanont really serious about the much trumpeted reform of the media?

If he had been dilly-dallying before, for whatever reason, the iTV debacle will no doubt compel him to cease humming and hawing and take a long-awaited plunge into a bold, comprehensive platform of media liberalisation.

The coup-makers have been seen to be nervously fumbling in their handling of the media, dabbling in news blackouts and press censorship. But Surayud can move in the opposite direction by freeing up state media, legalising community radio and provincial cable TV, and taking advantage of new media technology to promote satellite TV, Internet and broadband broadcasting.

In other words, the premier could turn the iTV fiasco into a golden opportunity to launch a visionary liberalisation of the media.

Thaksin's scandalous exploitation of iTV and the deplorable dumbing-down of Thai television programmes in general makes it clear that there is no better time for the country's leaders to embrace the concept of public service broadcasting, or PSB - which, if managed properly, would fulfil the mission of broadcasting that is made for the public, financed by the public and controlled by the public.


The joke of this column is that Suthichai Yoon has been editing and producing horrible crap for The Nation for years.

The Nation is concerned with what other media outlets are doing, yet the place that needs reform the most is The Nation Multimedia Group.

If the media reform and liberalization that Suthichai Yoon wants took place in Thailand, the first thing any decent publisher would do is fire the editors of The Nation.

The Nation, however, lives in such an insulated, protected uncompetitive environment that it doesn't even know how good it could be, and if its place was ever challenged, it would wage a right-wing campaign so fast that it would make your heads spin.

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