MCOT told to review axing of election program host

The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) today called on the management of the state-owned Mass Communications Organization of Thailand (MCOT) to review its order removing the host of an election program for alleged bias.

In a statement, the TBJA said that the action by the operator of Channel 9 in removing Mrs. Orawan Choodee, a co-host with veteran journalist Veera Thirapat of the “Election 62” program,amounted to interference with media freedom in news presentation and a direct threat to the public’s right of access to information.

The journalists’ organization said the management’s accusation that Mrs. Orawan was biased against the government is an empty claim, adding “The role of the media in the lead-up to the March 24th election is crucial in arousing public awareness of the need to exercise their voting rights and to scrutinize policies which are beneficial to the public.”

Several broadcast journalists today gave moral support to Mrs.Orawan in their Facebook posts.

Earlier, Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on media organizations to indicate their stance over the MCOTmanagement’s action against Mrs. Orawan who said, in her Facebook post, that she accepted the management’s decision, but rejected the accusation that she was biased, noting that she has been a professional journalist for over 30 years.

The MCOT labour union leader Suvit Mingmongkol said he would first discover whether the management’s order was justified before the union would decide upon its next move.

The election program in question aired live on February 28th.  Representatives from 10 political parties were invited to join the debate along with about 100 students from 16 institutes from across the country, representing first-time voters.

The students were asked questions by the program hosts without advance knowledge of what would be asked.  However, the questions were apparently interpreted as being “leading” and biased against the government.

Cradit picture : FB สุวิทย์ มิ่งมล

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