BBC World Service withdraws from Thailand

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The BBC World Service has stopped broadcasting from one of its major global transmission stations situated in Thailand, AFP has learned, after talks broke down with a junta riled by its uncensored coverage.

Sources with knowledge of the negotiations said the BBC’s Thai-language output impeded discussions about renewing the 20-year lease on the complex, the network’s main shortwave broadcast station for Asia.

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Read – More censorship as The New York Post is blocked in Thailand

The centre’s large red and white transmission towers in Nakhon Sawan 150 miles (240 kilometres) north of Bangkok beamed local language news into tightly-controlled countries such as China and North Korea, and into places where many still rely on radio like Pakistan and Afghanistan

But it went off air on January 1 following the expiry of the lease. “Despite extensive negotiations, we have been unable to reach an agreement to re-commence transmissions,” the BBC said in a statement.

The BBC World Service produces uncensored news in 29 different languages. It is part-funded by the British government but editorially independent.

The Asia transmission station was moved to Thailand from Hong Kong in 1997 after the city was handed back to China. The BBC did not give details of why the talks broke down.

But two sources said the network’s Thai-language service had become a sore point.

Dissident student leader Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa, one of more than 8,000 people to share the profile on Facebook, was charged with royal defamation in the first such prosecution under Vajiralongkorn’s reign.

Sansern Kaewkumnerd, head of Thailand’s Public Relations Department, confirmed discussions had faltered and said it was “still unclear whether the contract would be extended or not extended”.

Thailand’s 2014 coup brought to power a group of ultra-royalist generals who have stamped down on dissent and cramped media freedoms.

-The Nation

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  • Buster

    That’s move is long overdue… last year the BBC had covert journalists working in Thailand making a documentary about Thailand deporting Christian Pakistanis who had fled Pakistan due to religious persecution by Muslims.

    Thailand had rejected their asylum claims and the BBC took it upon themselves to break Thai law and film illegally to try and discredit Thailand for their actions.

    There was a TV programme aired in the UK about it and it was on the BBC website. I filed a complaint to the BBC and the short film was soon removed from the website, within an hour.

    Why didn’t the BBC take the problem and the documentary to Pakistan? the ones who started the problems, why did the Pakistani Christians decide to seek asylum in Thailand? a Buddhist country. And why are the British paying a licence fee to the BBC to commit these types of crimes in a foreign country?

    Without a doubt….Jonathan Head should be locked up.

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