Red shirt Peace TV will keep working

Red shirt Peace TV will keep working

The red-shirt Peace TV station has decided to continue disseminating content via the Internet and other media after it was pulled off the air by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) on Thursday night for allegedly being a threat to national security.

The station will also continue its legal battle to be allowed back on air, red-shirt co-leader Weng Tojirakarn said.

Weng, who also hosted shows on the channel, said they would file petitions with international rights bodies, including the United Nations.

"We will not abandon the station, but will use new platforms - website, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LINE and even publish a weekly journal. We will not abandon our brothers and sisters," Weng said, referring to the hundred plus members of staff who are now unemployed. "It's like we're on the same ship. If we sink, we sink together."

The station's licence was initially revoked on Monday for violating the memorandum of understanding (MoU) it signed with the NBTC and the military by allegedly sowing seeds of conflict and becoming a threat to national security.

On Thursday, when the station was pulled off-air, Weng cried foul, insisting that NBTC had been far too hasty in shutting down the station.

"It's like executing us first and handing down a death warrant later," he said, referring to the unexpected arrival of some 20 soldiers and police at 9pm on Thursday night with the shutdown order.

Supinya Klangnarong, the only NBTC commissioner who was against the move, tweeted that the NBTC should have stuck to its own regulations instead of relying on an MoU that was created with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) after the coup.

"I disagree with the use of an MoU that was first announced by the NCPO. The decision to punish, no matter which [TV] channel, should first be done under Article 37," Supinya tweeted referring to the broadcasting law.

She admits that the station was one-sided but said it was only a breach of the media's professional ethics, not necessarily a reason to be taken off-air.

On Thursday night, some news anchors began crying while on air when they realised their station would be shut down. An image of four female news anchors covering their ears, eyes and mouth as a last act of defiance went viral on social media.

Reactions on Facebook to the shutdown varied from outright condemnation to full support. Many supporters slammed the junta for being behind the move.

"We're regressing towards a pitch-dark era," Tathata Jaroenporn posted on Facebook yesterday.

"Dictators tend to be afraid of the truth," Pong Karunathikul, another Facebook user, said.

"I haven't watched this channel for a long time now, but shutting it down won't make me love dictators more," Banhan Ratmanee posted. But Yechiela Pojanamesbannstit's reaction was different.

"Thais don't need leaders who represent the elite among red-shirts. But we should discuss among ourselves, and ask if we should listen to our own voices or those of leaders who led many to their deaths, while they themselves never got killed," she posted, referring to protests that led to the death of ordinary red-shirt supporters over the years.

Some suggested that the move exposed the junta's sense of insecurity, while one said the shutdown was irrelevant. "Irrelevant! Social network is the main force for liberalism [today]," wrote Facebook user Prathan Triumnoyporn.

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