Thai political talk show taken off air

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thailand's popular political talk show, Muang Thai Rai Sapda has been dropped by Channel 9. Hosted by Sondi Limthongkul, the show was notorious for its criticism of the Thai government.

Sondhi, the presenter, and founder of a popular newspaper and magazine, Pujatkran (Eng: Manager), accused the network of making a politically motivated decision.

MCOT Plc, which owns the channel, issued a statement saying the company had to remove the programme after several warnings to Sondhi to exercise caution when making comments and to adhere to the basic journalistic principle of not violating the rights and freedom of others.

It said Sondhi had made several one-sided attacks on people who had no chance of countering his accusations. According to the statement, in his 8 September programme Sondhi said the appointment of the interim Supreme Patriarch infringed on a royal prerogative and had made reference to the monarchy in a way that might cause public misunderstanding.

Reacting to the accusation, Sondhi said MCOT distorted the facts to turn public sentiment against him. "I don't mind being removed because I am critical of the government, but do not say that I infringed on a royal prerogative," he said. Sondhi said his reference to the monarchy was made with respect.