The Thai junta is further isolating itself from the world by refusing to extend a contract with the BBC to run one of its major global transmission stations located in central Thailand.
The BBC World Service has stopped broadcasting its programmes from its transmission station located in Nakhon Sawan Province.
The station had been broadcasting uncensored foreign-language news into authoritarian countries, such as North Korea and China or countries, which still rely on radios significantly such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The broadcasting faltered after the Thai government refused to renew the contract for the station
To no avail, the BBC Thai tried to negotiate with the Thai authorities to renew the contract for another 20 years after the contract expired on 1 January 2017.
The BBC’s Asia transmission station was relocated to Thailand from Hong Kong in 1997 after the city-state was handed back to People’s Republic of China.
The relationship between the BBC Thai and the Thai junta became sour after it published a biography of King Vajiralongkorn in late 2016. The biography was criticised by many Thai royalists as disrespect to the new Thai monarch.
Although no BBC staff has been accused of the notorious lèse majesté law for publishing the biography, the Thai authorities on 3 December 2016, arrested Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM), and charged him with Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for sharing the BBC’s article.
Despite the fact that more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook, he was the only one arrested for lèse majesté.
As the court repeatedly denied him bail, Jatuphat is still detained in Khon Kaen Prison.