Facebook the most popular news source for Thais: Study

Facebook has become the most popular source of news for Thais, according to a survey on the popularity of traditional news sources versus online sources conducted by Bangkok University.

The survey was conducted on 1,750 respondents in five provinces over a year.

"Most student source news on Facebook, with the highest proportion being those in the Central region - this was beyond our expectations," said Asst Prof Bubpha Makesrithongkum of the university's Faculty of Mass Communi-cation, who conducted the survey with colleague, Khajornjit Bunnag. "Facebook responds to their demands and they only read what they're interested in."

The respondents were broken down into those of student age, people of working-age and senior citizens. Most respondents were from middle-class background.

Her findings were presented yesterday at Bangkok University's Rangsit Campus in a conference on how mass media should adapt to the challenges of the Internet; an event was organised by the university in cooperation with the Thai Journalist Association (TJA).

Bubpha said the younger generation had a higher tendency to access news through online sources, while people of working age and senior citizens still relied on newspapers and public television. Though overall, public TV was still the most popular source of news in Thailand, she said.

Bubpha added most students found news presentations on Facebook more interesting, although one participant questioned whether the notion of what constitutes news for the younger generation would be the same as that read by older people.

For traditional news, the study revealed that radio was the least popular source.

Sudarat Disayawattana Chan-trawattanakul, dean of mass communication at Panyapiwat Institute of Management, said she was concerned that the introduction of digital TV next year would not necessarily lead to a greater variety of news, because public TV had so far failed to offer much diversity.

She also warned that digital television would struggle to finance itself in the first five years, as advertisers would continue to stick with public TV.