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NBTC shutters Peace TV after court delay

A court hearing on the issue will start next week, he said.

Nisit Sinthuprai, a red-shirt leader and Peace TV host, said there was a political reason behind the NBTC order because the referendum was drawing nearer. He added

that the station would continue broadcasts on social media on the Internet.

Peace TV has alternative broadcasting channels such as YouTube and Facebook

The petition filed with the Central Administrative Court alleged that the NBTC unlawfully issued the order to suspend the station’s licence despite an earlier court injunction order.

Jatuporn, chairman of the red-shirt United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship, which runs Peace TV, and former Pheu Thai MP Weng Tojirakan told the court that the suspension order had caused serious damage to the station’s business.

The order was executed by Pakdi Manawej, deputy secretary-general of the NBTC.

Peace TV has sought Bt6.3-million compensation and annual interest of 7.5 per cent from authorities, who it said had also violated the station’s right to freedom of expression.

The Central Administrative Court was asked to remove the suspension order and allow Thaicom Plc and TC Broadcasting Co to continue providing satellite and related services to Peace TV.

The court hearing, presided over by Judge Suchart Sriworakul, was only attended by representatives from Peace TV.

The National Council for Peace and Order had previously issued an order empowering the NBTC to suspend the licences of mass media operators, which would have no legal recourse under the order.

Jatuporn said the NBTC’s action was unlawful and politically motivated since Peace TV would be blacked out during the August 7 national referendum on the new charter.

He said the TV station had presented views against the new charter and urged the public to vote “no”.

In addition, he said, the NBTC had not treated Peace TV as had been agreed or like other TV stations, which would have been given multiple warnings before having their licences suspended or only some programmes would have been banned.

Peace TV was being shut down even though it had acted in accordance with regulations, Jatuporn said. Red-shirt leader Thida Thavornseth said he hoped the station would get court protection through another injunction order but she feared the suspension would result in complications that could force the station off air even longer.

“For the closure, it is very easy. But after 30 days when we are legally allowed to resume the station, technical complications may arise and it could take weeks or months before the [situation at the] satellite and the cable TV settles,” she said.

The station would also be affected financially as companies are withdrawing commercials, Thida said. But the station would survive and employees would not lose their jobs due to donations from red-shirt supporters, she added.

Hundreds of red-shirt supporters gathered yesterday at Peace TV’s headquarters at the Imperial Lat Phrao department store, most wearing black T-shirts embossed with a message calling for a free and fair referendum process.|

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