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Thaksin supporters defiant on launching TV channel

Executives of the Thai satellite channel People's Television (PTV), believed to be funded by people close to deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, are planning to go ahead with the launch on March 1 despite threats from the current interim government.

Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (L) with his wife Pojaman (R) at Government House in Bangkok, April 2006. A lawyer for Thaksin vowed to fight any criminal charges brought against his family, after military-appointed investigators accused his wife of tax evasion.(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

A group of Thai Rak Thai party members Saturday unveiled their station, setting the tone for what could be a media showdown with the government, the Bangkok Post reported. Even though PTV's founders have resigned from TRT executive posts, the station is being seen as a tool to counter the government which has launched a proactive media campaign through publisher Sondhi Limthongkul's Yam Fao Paendin programme on Channel 11. Thaksin and Sondhi are arch enemies.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Thirapat Serirangsan Friday warned that PTV executives would face charges if the channel went on air. "If the PTV executives confirm to continue their operations, the Public Relations Department chief will have to process the case according to law," said Thirapat. "He will lodge a complaint with the police."

The launch of the station is viewed by authorities as "illegal" because it allegedly breaks the frequencies management law. PTV's executives claim to have done everything properly from the begining as other satellite channels, including Sondhi's ASTV.

The PTV launch venue, which was shifted from the October 14 Memorial at Kok Wua intersection to a Bangkok hotel, was packed with TRT personalities and supporters. Several PTV news programmes that were unveiled would be hosted by TRT supporters including Thana Benjathikul, Thaksin’s lawyer.

PTV founder Veera Musikapong said the station had been established to serve the public and positioned as an alternative media outlet. ''I am not saying that I am not a TRT man. But it is better to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. I expect the station to be content-reliable and financially viable. That it is to serve TRT is out of the question,'' he said.

Sondhi Limthongkul, left, leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, at a joint news conference with colleagues Chamlong Srimuang, right, and Suriyasai Takasila, centre, in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, February 20, 2007. The pro-democracy group, spearheaded protests against toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, criticised the inclusion of a top Thaksin aide, former Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, in the military-installed government. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

He had a plan to make PTV a publicly-owned broadcaster, saying the station would issue 500,000 shares to the public and raise 50 million baht in capital. Copies of a letter of intent to buy PTV shares were distributed to prospective buyers who were required to buy at least 10 shares at 100 baht apiece, but no more than 20,000 shares each.

A spokesman for the National Security Council also accused the channel of being a mouthpiece of the old power clique, according to a report in the Nation. "If it's legal they can do it, but the PR department and the PMO minister must take responsibility. As far as I know, it can't be done, though, because no law allows for it. It's also not right to compare it to ASTV as that channel has a legal case pending and can operate because it has received a temporary court injunction," said Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

Date posted: February 26, 2007 Date modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 6