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Weekly Wrap Up: Outcry over Thai regulators ban of VoiceTV

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Professional media associations showed support for VoiceTV urging Thai broadcast regulators to reconsider its decision to ban the station. The news outlet was given a seven day ban by The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)  for repeatedly broadcasting bias and unjustified criticisms against the Thai military. The NBTC subcommittee had initially proposed a three day license suspension but increased it to seven days following three continuous violations within a month. 

A joint statement from by the Thai Journalists Association and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association called the ban of the whole station”unfair”, noting that only some programmes and anchors violated the orders. They also described the ban as violating media freedom in Thailand, potentially harming other media outlets. Voice TV has had programmes banned several times since the military coup in 2014. The decision to suspend a  station’s operating licence is considered a very rare practice in Thailand.

VoiceTV was among the first internet media organisations in Thailand with a website-only presence in 2009. The news outlet owned by former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s children won a digital TV licence three years ago and has vowed to take legal action.

Further details of this story can be found on Bangkok Post, The Nation and Khaosod English


The Karnataka Legislature formed a joint committee to identify ways for controlling both and electronic media. The committee was deemed necessary after Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA’s) from all parties complained to the house speaker about being “misrepresented” by the media. The committee is due to provide its recommendations in three months.

More details can be found at News18.


Two BBC editors are to hold a lecture on media freedom in Thailand‘s Thammasat University’s Tha Pra Chan campus. Director of the BBC’s World Service Group,Frans Unsworth and Iain Haddow, Executive Editor for Asia will also speak at Chulalongkron University. The BBC has been under the spotlight after recent coverage of Thailand’s leaders.

The story can be read on The Nation.


Media chiefs from across the globe have submitted a letter to USA President Donald Trump highlighting his constant attacks on the press. The letter was signed by more than 40 media chiefs e, including Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, the first Malaysian to be elected into the Paris-based World Editors Forum (WEF).

The story can be read on The Star


Myanmar has allowed foreign journalists to visit and “freely investigate” the state of Rakhine.  A team of 20 foreign and local media groups has been granted permission to visit the state where the country’s military has been accused of human rights abuses against the Rohingya. The United Nations has claimed that more than 1,000 have been killed in by army operations.

Further details from the story can be read on Asian Correspondent


 


Weekly Wrap Up: Media ban imposed by Malaysian Speaker of Parliament

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Objections have been raised towards a media ban imposed by the Malaysian Speaker of Parliament. The ban prevents members of the media from interacting with MP’s within the lobby of the Parliament. The ruling which is to be implemented immediately was made citing safety as the top priority. The National Union of Journalist (NUJ) Malaysia has opposed this ban noting that this severely restricts the ability of journalists to carry out responsible reporting. 

Questions were also raised by media freedom groups in Malaysia on why the proposal came from the aides of the Prime Minister and his deputy. It was reported that such an action would call into question the separation of powers between the parliament and the executive, casting a gloomy shadow on democratic values within the country. A compromised proposal to introduce a media liaison officer was also rejected, claiming that such a role would only serve to further inhibit press freedom. 

Read the full story on The Independent, The Malay Mail Online, and Malaysiakini.


Two French journalists, who were filming a documentary for Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines, were detained and subsequently deported from Papua for lacking “necessary documents”. Indonesian authorities barred the two journalists from entering Indonesia for six months as they entered the country on a tourist visa and were reporting without permit. 

Read the full story on Human Rights Watch and Asia Pacific Report.


According to South East Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Timor Leste’s resource-poor media have struggled to provide a fair media coverage of the presidential elections held last Monday (March 20) and the upcoming parliamentary elections in July. Local media organisations have been worried about not being able to provide a balanced coverage due to a dwindling number of staffers. Additionally, journalists within the region are poorly paid and not well-equipped to provide unbiased reporting for the people.


The Philippines’ Tourism Secretary, Wanda Teo has asked the media to “tone down” their coverage of the current administration’s war on drugs. She has also addressed the same plea to the Vice President following his video message to the UN denouncing the alleged execution of 8,000 Filipinos. Ms Teo also noted that there are still lare numbers of tourists visiting Philippines, especially from China, Europe and Asia. 

More details of the story can be found at our partner Asia News Network (ANN).


Vietnam has detained  two bloggers for posting anti-state related comments. Both bloggers were detained for investigation of propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, according to the Government on its Facebook page. The Government also noted that both bloggers had collaborated with Viet Tan, or Vietnam Reform Party, which Hanoi has declared as a terrorist group.

The article can be read at Reuters.

 


Weekly Wrap Up: Hong Kong fears press freedom, attacks on journalists, censorship and more

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Hong Kong fears its media environment as i-Cable, a pay television and broadband internet business, will not be financed any longer by Wharf Holdings. After 24 years, the broadcaster might even need to close as early as June. The channel was the first one offering 24 hours non-stop news and is known as trustworthy broadcaster that covers key news event fair but critical. Over the past year, three other free television and radio stations have been closed down already. According to the South China Morning Post, people claimed the closure “would be a major blow to press freedom”.

Read the full story also on Huffington Post.

Also Hong Kong’s digital media is fighting for press freedom and its right for coverage. The Hong Kong Free Press collaborated with 11 other media groups and journalist unions to urge Hong Kong authorities to give digital media outlets full access to events and information on election day (26 March). As for now, the digital media is barred from covering government-run events, receiving press statements or requesting information of auhtorities.


An anti-espionage draft act proposed by the Taiwanese Justice Ministry faces strong criticism in Taiwan regarding it’s influence on the countrie’s press freedom. Taiwan Media Watch (TMW), a non-profit organisation, noted that media literacy education and media professionalism are better ways to “fight against fake news” than enacting this controversial law. The drafts of the law are not allowed for public circulation and can only be accessed by relevant officials.

More details of the story can be found on Focus Taiwan.


Safety of journalism in Fiji under the spotlight after journalist attacked outside court. A remand prisoner hurled a stone at a Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) television journalist who was presenting outside the Suva court. Despite escorted by police to the cell block, the prisoner still managed to throw a stone and verbally abuse the reporter. Police at the scene refused to take any action, while a spokesperson for the Fijian Police has informed that a thorough investigation of the incident was to be carried out. Fijian Media Association General Secretary Stanley Simpson reacted by saying “The journalist needs to be left to do their work because in the end it benefits everyone”.

Read the full story on the Asia Pacific Report.


A prominent Filipino newspaper columnist was gunned down on Monday (13 March) by four masked assailants on motorbikes. The killed journalist was known as a “hard hitting journalist”. He had been sentenced to 12 years in jail for six libel charges in 2000, of which he had served five before being released on parole. He is the second journalist killed under the Duterte administration.

Full details of the story can be found on The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).


Walt Disney has halted the release of its new film, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in Malaysia citing state censorship concerns. The studio has postponed the release of its latest film after Malaysian censors said it could only approve the movie if a particular ‘gay moment’ was removed. Malaysia’s film censorship board chairman noted that he was unsure why the movie was postponed indefinitely as it had been approved by the board apart a minor gay scene. He indicated that there was no appeal from Disney about the decision to edit the scene. This news follows the decision made by Russia last week to approve the movie but restricting it for those above the age of sixteen.

More details of this story can be found on The Guardian.

 


Weekly Wrap Up: Attacks in China, Indonesia as role model and protection for Afghan journalists

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A camera crew of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was attacked in rural China while interviewing a villager about land reforms and her father being killed during a land dispute with the government. After the attack, the journalists were forced to apologise and confess the ‘illegal interviewing’ as well as delete some of their footage. 

Read the full story on the websites of the Guardian and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).


Last Friday, Indonesia’s Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara met Adel Zaid Al Toraifi, Saudi Arabia’s Culture and Information Minister. During the meeting they talked about press freedom in both countries and Indonesia’s Press Law from 1999. Due to Rudiantara, Saudi Arabia was surprised that there is no censorship from the Indonesian government and wants to learn “how to manage the press”

Read the full story on the website of the Jakarta Post


To assist and protect female journalists especially in remote parts of Afghanistan, Reporters Without Boders opened its first ‘Center for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists’.

Read the full story also on the website of the Daily Mail

 


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