Friday, November 23, 2007

Karen dialect radio stations in northern Thailand put off air

The northern community radio network says it will protest to the governor of Chiang Mai province in Thailand after two of its 10 member stations broadcasting in a hilltribe dialect were forced off the air for security reasons. Sangmuang Mangkorn, coordinator of the Chiang Mai-based Migration Action Programme, said a man claiming to represent the Third Army called up the two stations, in Fang and Chom Thong districts, and ordered them to stop broadcasting, citing security reasons. The stations broadcast in Karen dialect.

”These stations have never posed any national security threat, they only broadcast useful information to the public,” Mr Sangmuang said. ”They avoid political issues and have never influenced their audience on election choices.” He said there might be a political motive behind the closure order as the 23 December general election was approaching.

Mr Sangmuang said his radio station in Chiang Mai’s Muang district, which broadcasts in the ethnic Shan dialect on FM 99 MHz, had also been warned that it might be shut down even though the station’s programme content focuses on health and law issues. ”I am ready to talk with the local authorities about this matter,” he said.
(Source: Bangkok Post/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)