THAILAND: 4,500 radio stations register

National Telecommunications Commission will file complaints with police and charge unregistered stations with illegal use of transmitters and radio frequencies

Bangkok Post
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

By Komsan Tortermvasana

More than 4,500 community radio stations have registered under a National Telecommunications Commission scheme to become legal broadcasters.

About 95% of the country's community radio stations have signed up for the 300-day trial licence. Registration closes on Aug 24, Col Natee Sukolrat, chairman of the NTC's community radio working group, said yesterday.

Stations which did not register by next Monday's deadline but continued to operate would be considered illegal, he said.

While the commission cannot shut down stations that fail to register, it could take action against them for illegal broadcasting, he said.

The NTC could file complaints with the police against stations which operate without a licence and charge them for the unlicensed use of transmitters and radio frequencies.

Community stations which have registered under the scheme can broadcast for 300 days but their programme content must not incite political unrest and violence, offend the monarchy or disrupt social morals.

Breaking any of the conditions could lead to the withdrawal of broadcasting rights, he said.

Col Natee said the NTC had classified three types of community stations according to their content: public service, community programming and business.

Community stations should be subsidised and provide training for staff. Licensees must be an association, foundation or legal entity established under the law.

Community stations must not be operated by government agencies and they cannot profit from their operations. Broadcast content must be 70% news that is relevant to the community.

Col Natee said there were about 5,000 community radios operating in Thailand, not more than 7,000 as some have claimed.

About 4,800 stations registered two years ago when the Public Relations Department opened registration for community radio stations, he said.

The NTC's most recent survey, conducted last year, showed there were about 4,000 community radio stations in the Kingdom, he said.