THAILAND: Thaksin TV plan 'within law'

Former prime minister launches satellite television network, allots three channels about Otop products, the poor and educational programs for Thailand

Bangkok Post
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Plans for a global TV satellite network with many channels, unveiled by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra during his video-link address on Sunday, have drawn a mixed response.

Thaksin spoke of the idea to a gathering of supporters who were celebrating his 60th birthday at a restaurant on Bang Na-Trat Road.

The former prime minister said he would allot three channels for use by the country.

One channel would be dedicated to promoting and selling One Tambon, One Product (Otop) products, the other to presenting a reality show featuring the plight of the poor and ways to tackle poverty, and the last would be dedicated to educational programmes providing tutorial classes for students.

Puea Thai Party MP for Samut Prakan Pracha Prasopdee said Thaksin had developed the idea for the TV project over three months and it would take about a billion baht to get it going.

The TV network was expected to begin broadcasting early next month, Mr Pracha said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the proposal was welcome as long as it was in line with the law.

"It doesn't matter who does it," Mr Suthep said. "Most importantly, it must not cause damage to the country and the people."

Education Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said the proposed educational channel was nothing new. Educational programmes were being broadcast on the ministry's education TV (ETV) channel.

The ministry has also earmarked about 6 billion baht to create new education TV programming called E-Free TV, which would include broadcasts of tutorial classes, Mr Jurin said. Election Commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham yesterday admitted there was nothing the EC could do to take legal action against Thaksin over his phone-in and video-link addresses to supporters.

She said the EC had earlier ruled the addresses were not against the law.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya also brushed aside suggestions Thaksin's video-link address to his supporters was a thumbing of his nose at the government.

Meanwhile, Panich Vikitsreth, vice minister for foreign affairs, said the government was waiting for the United Arab Emirates' attorney-general to finalise whether Thaksin's corruption case was in line with its law to allow repatriation of the former prime minister to Thailand.

"I believe the UAE has a measure not to let him to stay in the country if Thaksin has instigated a political movement and attacked Thailand," Mr Panich said.