BBC withdrew from Thailand, say Foreign Ministry

Thai government say BBC decided to end broadcasts from the Kingdom

It was the BBC’s decision to stop World Service broadcasts from its transmission station in Nakhon Sawan province, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

The international news outlet sent a letter to the ministry on Feb 27, stating its intention to end negotiations with the government on renewing a 20-year lease on the complex, the ministry said.

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The Nakhon Sawan complex was the network’s main shortwave broadcast station for Asia.

Read – Thai junta banned the BBC, cancelled license

The BBC began discussions with the government last year about renewing the lease agreement, which expired on Dec 31 last year.

The lease was initially expected to be extended another seven years after the government sent its proposal for the renewal to the British broadcaster.

However, the BBC, spent several months reviewing the proposal and only replied to the ministry on Dec 21, which was close to the expiry date of the previous agreement, the ministry said.

Cabinet approval could not be obtained in time before the lease expired on Dec 31, it added.

As a result the BBC’s shortwave transmissions were halted from Jan 1 until a new lease agreement could be signed.

The government was in talks to renew the lease agreement, but the BBC later broke off talks, the ministry said. The BBC did not say why the talks broke down.

“Despite extensive negotiations, we have been unable to reach an agreement to re-commence transmissions,” the broadcaster said earlier.

However, according to an AFP report, the BBC’s Thai-language service had become a sore point between the two sides.

The posting of a BBC Thai article about His Majesty the King on its Facebook page in December is thought to have upset the Thai authorities.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the BBC’s shortwave relay station was established in Nakhon Sawan to air news content in various languages, produced by a London-based BBC outlet.

The languages did not include Thai.

-The Bangkok Post