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Thailand TV Station Taken Over by Junta

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posted on Mar, 7 2007 @ 03:07 AM
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Thailand TV Station Taken Over by Junta


news.bbc.co.uk

The Thai government has announced that it will take over the country's only main independent TV station, iTV, after it failed to pay unpaid fees.

The station was once owned by ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who sold it to Singapore-based firm Temasek in 2006.

The broadcaster had until Tuesday to pay nearly 100bn baht ($2.9bn) in fines and unpaid fees, after losing a legal battle.

But iTV had already admitted it had no hope of finding the money required.
(visit the link for the full news article)


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posted on Mar, 7 2007 @ 03:07 AM
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An attempt to explain a long story short.

ITV, independent television, was set up after the Mai 1992 bloodshed, the most violent in Thai history. It was centered around a university in Northern part of Bangkok, where troops loyal to the ruling general Suchinda literally were slaughtering rioting students. This went on for several days all the while the state(=army) controlled media reported absolutely nothing on the event.

People in Bangkok knew by word of mouth, which however seldom is heard in the Palace. But the world knew -- CNN and BBC was reporting from the scene.

Keep in mind, this was before satellite and cable television was established. The tidings finally reach the king via a relative abroad watching CNN. The king, the supreme commander of all Thai forces knew nothing before he got the call.

The fighting was stopped and the general fired as head of government. He is still a general and has never been prosecuted. As a side-note important to understand the rise of Thaksin Shinawatra, Suchinda was the benefactor who granted him the satellite concessions on which he made his fortune.

Anyway, the most important and visible outcome of the havoc was the establishing of iTV, as measure for this never to happen again, that matters of importance to the nation should go unnoticed. An independent television station to report unbiased of the ruling powers.

The irony is, when Thaksin was in power he slowly but steady bought up the majority of stocks in the station in his aim of total control of news outlets. In early 2006 iTV was part of his empire, Shin Corp., controlling all mobile communication and great parts of the media in Thailand. When he sold the business to Singaporean Temasek, iTV was part of the sale. The sale netted some $2.5 billion, and was what started his downfall. The deep-felt critic of his transaction are too wide and comprehensive to give in detail here.

A main focus in them was, he was selling off national assets. Therefore the criticism has gone to near national paranoia, and a hostility towards Singapore out of any proportion. The not too competent military leadership of the country has widely added to that hostility by dropping defamatory remarks to the press and pressing a legislation to hurt Temasek most possible. Now they got them fined out of business.

The short of the long: Thailand is heading towards press freedoms prior to 1992.

You will be able to read the story about iTV in detail by following the links in The Nation.

news.bbc.co.uk
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on Mar, 7 2007 @ 08:17 AM
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A little more about the Temesak deal, this trouble for the TV station has set in motion.

The outrage among Thais was instantly and severe, when the selling of the Thaksin business Shin Corp. was known around the start of February 2006. Popular rallies against his government had started in summer 2005 and gained momentum through the fall and winter. But it was the announcement, that he sold the business for 79 billion baht, that offended almost everyone in the kingdom, where a worker hardly makes more than 200 baht (5$) a day. It was something everybody could understand, not that anybody could get that much money, but it was out of any proportion.

In one transaction he had made what equals more than 130.000 years of salary for a normal worker. Thais normally have great admiration for those who are rich, but what hit the nail was, that he did it without paying any tax. The deal was on a Monday and the Friday before he pressed a legislation through parliament that made it possible, but not necessary legal. The central part in his "Temesak-law" was he made it legal to sell that amount of shares to a foreign company.

The tax probe is going on, possibly getting ready for court, but many things can happen. Like when he was first elected PM, he had a tax evasion case running, preventing his appointment. What to do, but hope for the death of the witness, which more or less naturally but very convenient DID happen.

The pending case doesn't involve himself, because as head of government the constitution prevented him from doing a deal like that. Therefor the shares were all given to his children and relatives, they are the ones to be charged... unless they brake down and confess it all as a scam set up for tax evation. Which of cause it has been from first on... including off-shore PO Box companies as middlemen. The question will be whether they dare prosecute.

As for now the debate in Thailand is Singapore owning their satellites, and thus - they believe - is eavesdropping on them. That misconception goes all the way in the government and military. I would characterize it close to paranoia. The coup leader, Sonthi has told the press that the fear has caused the military to switch back to old-time walkie-talkies. Yes, that's what he said... beside cancelling an agreement on training facilities for Singaporean army in Thailand.

But holy X...!! How stupid can people of education be... which must be taken for granted they have some of, when they can rule a country.



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