May 9, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Demonstrators surround TV stations, make demands

Reporters Without Borders is worried by intimidation of the main TV stations by demonstrators yesterday and today after the constitutional court dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on 7 May for “abuse of power.” The pressure is the result of an opposition call for a “final battle” against the government, with demonstrators being urged to march on government headquarters and the TV stations. The headquarters of five TV stations (Channels 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11) have been surrounded by demonstrators who are demanding that they cease to broadcast government announcements and instead broadcast those of the opposition People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). Channels 3, 5 and 7 have bowed to the demands while Channel 11 is continuing to broadcast government statements. In some cases, demonstrators have reportedly occupied the TV stations. “It is unacceptable that government opponents should target TV stations during their demonstrations,” said Reporters Without Borders research chief Lucie Morillon. “The media must be able to continue their job of reporting the news without being forced to choose one or the other side and without being subjected to pressure and, still less, occupations. We call on the opposition to immediately withdraw their demands on the TV stations and to stop surrounding them.” Thailand has been embroiled in a political crisis for the past six months with clashes between pro and anti-government demonstrators and both sides targeting the media. Journalists were injured while covering clashes between demonstrators on the eve of the recent parliamentary elections. Nick Nostitz, a German photo-journalist who was already attacked in November 2013, was again targeted by opposition “Yellow Shirts” outside the constitutional court on 7 May. Thailand is ranked 130th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.