Thailand Political Orientation
Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy
Leader: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (Right Wing Military Junta Leader)
Political Party: Move Forward Party (2023 majority)
Political Position: Progressive Left-Center
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 42.62 – Limited Freedom
World Press Freedom Rank: Thailand 106/180
Reporters Without Borders ranked Thailand 106/180 countries in its annual press freedom index, drawing attention to former Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s vision of the media which is to promote pro-government propaganda.
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
In Thailand, the absolute monarchy ended in 1932, and Thailand has had 19 coups ever since. The latest coup happened in 2014 by the military, led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, following protests and political turmoil. Currently, General Prayut Chan-o-cha is the prime minister of Thailand.
Thai society remains polarized into two political camps known as yellow and red shirts. Yellow shirts support the military-backed royalists, ultra-nationalist pro-monarchy Government. On the other hand, Red Shirts support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his family. Since the coup, the military has censored media and silenced the red press.
TV is the most popular medium in Thailand, with the majority of TV stations owned and controlled by the Government through the state-owned public broadcaster MCOT and the Royal Thai Army. MCOT owns MCOT TV, Channel 3, and the Royal Thai Army owns TV 5 and BBTV channel 7.
The majority of the print media are privately run. Newspapers such as the daily Thairath were pro-Thaksin; however, it is now anti-Thaksin. On the other hand, online platforms such as Prachatai and Voice TV are both pro-Thaksin and regularly threatened with suspension.
The Thai Government and the military control broadcast media, with restrictions and censorship, increasing and widening. For example, according to Reuters, the recent Cyber Security Law increases the Government’s control over the internet and is decried as “cyber martial law.” Furthermore, in Thailand, it is illegal to criticize the monarchy. According to Lèse-majesté law (Royal defamation law), insulting and defaming the monarchy is punishable by a jail sentence of up to 43 years. In 2021, the Thai Government announced Regulation No. 29, which empowers the authorities to censor online expression restricting freedom of speech; it failed to pass.
In summary, the military-backed Government continues to increase its control resulting in media that is encouraged to promote government propaganda. Often, journalists practice self-censorship over sensitive issues such as criticizing the monarchy. Therefore, Thai media faces a lack of press freedom and censorship at the hands of the Government.
Last Updated on May 15, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
Do you appreciate our work? Please consider one of the following ways to sustain us.