Update: A court on Thursday afternoon overturned yesterday’s ruling that four media outlets must cease operations, granting an appeal of the decision lodged by broadcaster Voice TV.
Voice TV has found a novel way to reach its audience despite a government shutdown order by broadcasting live via game-streaming platform Twitch.
With the station’s broadcasts unavailable after they were pulled by providers and its online platforms expected to go dark, it has, since yesterday, been broadcasting live and posting short clips online via Twitch. The channel’s editor in chief, Rittikorn Mahakhachabhorn, told Coconuts Bangkok that they don’t consider the government order applicable to the three-year-old VoiceTV x Twitch channel.
“If they shut down our other online channels, we will launch new ones and rebroadcast on those. Every channel is our main channel,” the editor said
He added that it would complement their larger channels such as YouTube and Facebook during the challenging time that they are only available online.
“We saw that it’s popular among new generations in many foreign countries, so we wanted to introduce ourselves there three years ago, and now Twitch is getting more popular in Thailand,” he said.
The Criminal Court yesterday ordered Voice TV to halt all online operations for violating the Computer Crime Act and emergency decree, an order that is not yet effective.
Human Rights Watch today said the government abused that decree to censor the channel as part of a campaign to “bully” the media.
“Banning Voice TV is the Thai government’s latest attempt to stop the reporting about democracy protests and ensuing abuses against protesters,” said Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director. “The crackdown is part of a bigger effort to bully and control the media into becoming a government mouthpiece.”
Voice TV, founded by a son of an ousted prime minister, is a frequent target of the military-backed regime and has been ordered to cease broadcasting in the past. On Monday, it was one of four agencies the police ordered investigated and shut down in the face of swelling protests across the nation against the government.