Thai court orders Voice TV to shut down all online operations

The Criminal Court today ordered broadcaster Voice TV to halt all online operations after finding it guilty of computer crimes and violating the state of emergency.

The court made its ruling, which affects the independent broadcaster’s website and social media, based on evidence presented by the Digital Economy and Society Ministry, according to ministry official Putchapong Nodthaisong.

“Its Facebook page will be closed within 3 to 4 days. There is no specific date,” he said, citing a provision that service providers must page content that is deemed to instigate the public. 

He said the ruling only applied to online because broadcast was the purview of state telecom regulators.

“Television is the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s responsibility, so they have authority to revoke the license.”

Voice TV at 1:30pm said it had yet to receive the order and defended its commitment to fairness and a free press.

“Throughout 11 years, Voice TV has been a media outlet that upholds democratic values,” the station said via Facebook. “We openly, transparently provide a space for the public, and we are responsible to report every fact from all sides … We demand the authorities involved exercise their power fairly.”

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.

Putchapong weighed in with his opinion that the channel had violated the emergency decree, put in place over the capital Thursday, because its broadcast persuaded people to join the mass gatherings.

The government has refused to back down in the face of protests it has been unable to contain and has moved to muzzle coverage it does not deem favorable.

Yesterday, police ordered that four news agencies – Prachathai, The Reporters, The Standard and Voice TV – be investigated and shut down, as well as the page of main student activist group Free Youth. However, today’s court ruling only applies to Voice TV.

Yesterday, a number of media associations lodged formal protests against the move.

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4 Thai news agencies to be shut down by gov’t as protests explode: police

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