BANGKOK - Thailand's army suspended broadcasts on several television channels in a sweeping move to censor the media after the declaration of martial law across the bitterly divided nation.
The channels were suspended "in order that people will get the correct information and not distort information to deepen the conflict", according to a written order broadcast simultaneously on all television channels.
The channels ordered to stop broadcasting included three pro-government "Red Shirt" channels as well as the anti-government protesters main satellite channel Blue Sky TV - which has shown more than six months deadly protests round-the-clock and has been key in galvanising rallies.
Television screens went blank for several seconds before the order was delivered simultaneously on each channel - written on a sheet of paper and signed by army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha.
The order was issued around an hour after Prayut declared the widespread censorship of the media in the interests of "national security".
The army "prohibits all media outlets from reporting or distribution of any news or still photographs detrimental to national security," said the statement by Prayut which was broadcast on every channel.
Thailand has faced months of debilitating protests aimed at ousting the government.
At least 28 people have died in gun and grenade attacks on the protests, with hundreds of others wounded.