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Media of Thailand

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Thailand has a well-developed media sector, especially by Southeast Asian standards. Compared to other countries in the region, the Thai media is considered relatively free, although the government continues to exercise considerable control, especially over broadcast media.




Television is by far the most popular medium in Thailand. More than 80% of Thais are estimated to rely on television as their primary source of news.


The Thai constitution of 1997 provides for an independent authority, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to regulate the broadcasting industry. However, owing to legal disputes surrounding the selection process for NBC commissioners, the NBC still has not yet been established. For the time-being, Thai television channels remain under the tight control of various government agencies.


The largest players in the Thai television industry are MCOT, a former state enterprise of which the government still owns 77%, and the Royal Thai Army, which retained ownership of numerous broadcast frequencies even after the end of military rule in Thailand. The only commercial station not subject to the control of MCOT or the army is iTV, which is owned by Shin Corporation, a communications conglomerate controlled by Temasek Holdings of Singapore. Thailand's public service broadcaster, Channel 11, is funded and operated by the Public Relations Department (PRD) of the Prime Minister's Office.


Terrestrial TV


Thailand's six terrestrial TV stations are based in Bangkok and are relayed to all parts of the country through repeaters. Although Thailand has experimented with digital terrestrial television on a trial basis, the delays in establishing the NBC will likely slow the conversion from analogue to digital broadcasting technology.


List of TV Stations


Channel 3 - Owned by MCOT and operated by Bangkok Entertainment Co. Ltd. (owned by BEC World Public Co. Ltd., parent company of BEC-TERO) under contract.

Channel 5 - Owned and operated by the Royal Thai Army

Channel 7 - Owned by the Royal Thai Army and operated by the Bangkok Broadcasting & Television Company (BBTV) under contract

Modernine (Channel 9) - Owned and operated by MCOT.

Channel 11 - Public service broadcaster; owned and operated by the government's Public Relations Department (PRD).

iTV - Owned and operated by Shin Corporation under concession from the Prime Minister's Office.


Cable and Satellite Broadcasting


Aside from terrestrial television, Thailand has several CATV, MMDS and Satellite television providers. The largest player in the market is the United Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), which is controlled by the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, the massive Thai business conglomerate. UBC owns concessions from MCOT to operate CATV services in greater Bangkok and encrypted digital satellite TV (DSTV) services throughout the country. It began offering digital cable in 2003. At end of 2003, UBC had approximately 140,000 subscribers for its CATV service and nearly 300,000 subscribers for its DSTV service. UBC programming is also carried in Cambodia and Vietnam.


Outside Bangkok, hundreds of independent CATV providers offer services in the provinces. The PRD is technically in charge of regulating provincial cable operators, but only 78 providers have been licensed so far. More than 200 CATV operators are awaiting approval from the PRD, while another 200 operate illegally. The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia estimates that the provincial cable operators reach a total of 1.1 million subscribers.


Thai TV (TTV) holds a concession from the PRD to operate an MMDS service in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. TTV currently operates a free-to-air analogue MMDS service with three channels and an encrypted digital MMDS service that offers 16 channels. Nation Multimedia Group, a Thai media conglomerate, currently owns a 12% stake in TTV. Thus, content produced by the Nation Group's Nation Channel features prominently on TTV's programming line-up.


ASTV, owned by news operation holding Manager Media Group, is a free-to-air satellite television network that offers eight channels via Ku band. Many provincial CATV providers also carry ASTV channels on their line-up.




Thailand has 204 AM stations, 334 FM stations and six shortwave broadcasters (as of 1999). As is the case with television, radio broadcasting is supposed to be regulated by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). However, because of delays in establishing the NBC, radio frequencies remain in the hands of a plethora of government agencies, including the military, state universities, the Posts and Telegraph Department, the Public Relations Department (PRD) and MCOT. These agencies operate several stations directly, while the remainder are leased out to private content providers.


Community radio stations operated with low-power transmitters have proliferated in the last few years, offering listeners an alternative to the government-controlled stations. However, the government has recently shut down many community radio stations on the grounds that they operated stronger transmitters than permitted, interfering with existing frequencies. On the other hand, critics of the government allege that the stations that were shut down were targeted because they featured programs that were critical of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's policies.




In contrast to television, print media in Thailand are not subject to close government supervision. Readers have a choice of numerous papers, ranging from sensationalist mass-circulation dailies to newspapers that specialize in coverage of political and business news. Thailand's so-called "business newspapers" also include substantial coverage of politics and culture. All newspapers are printed in broadsheet format, so even though the popular mass-circulation newspapers are often referred to as "tabloids", labeling them as such would be a misnomer.


With the exception of one newspaper in Chiang Mai, all daily papers are published in Bangkok and distributed in all parts of the country.


The political leanings of Thai newspapers can be categorized according to how they relate to the democracy movement of the 1970s. The mainstream print media are represented by Thai Rath and Daily News, which together account for one-half of Thailand's newspaper sales. Because both papers were founded before the democracy movement while the country was still under military rule, by necessity, they had to cultivate good relationships with the army and elite bureaucracy. This has led them to develop an editorial outlook that tends to lean in favor of the status-quo. Thus, these publications are viewed as "conservative" within the Thai political context. On the other hand, newspapers that grew out of the student movement of the 1970s such as Matichon, The Nation and Thai Post tend to adopt an anti-establishment outlook. Therefore, within the Thai political spectrum, their political line can be loosely characterized as "progressive."


As Thai newspapers do not have their circulation figures audited, precise circulation figures are not available. The circulation figures provided below are based on the newspapers' claimed average daily circulation figures, which are likely to be exaggerated.


Mass-circulation Dailies

  • Thai Rath - Claiming a circulation of approximately 1 million, this is Thailand's most influential newspaper. Prominently features sensationalist stories on crime and accidents. Its political stance is moderately populistic. High circulation is due to its stance on populistic stance and hence its acceptance with the public opinion of the general population, in particular, the majority rural market.
  • Daily News - Circulation was claimed to be as high as 900,000 for 2005. Very similar in style and substance to Thai Rath, somewhat less successful than Thai Rath, usually due to content of the news are generally less than that of Thai Rath.
  • Kom Chad Luek - Claimed a circulation of approximately 850,000 in 2005. Owned by the Nation Multimedia Group. Political stance is a conservative, non-populist, and moderately anti-government. Hence most of its sales are concentrated toward the business and upper to middle income group, who generally support non-populistic conservative stance, but are well educated.
  • Khao Sod - Estimated circulation was claimed to be around 600,000 in 2005. Part of Matichon Pcl, a publishing group. Editorial line is moderate to conservative and leads in a small niche of conservative Thai reader market, mostly in urban areas.

Quality Dailies

  • Matichon - Claims circulation of approximately 600,000. The flagship publication of Matichon Pcl, this paper is considered essential reading for Thailand's educated classes. Editorial line is moderate to progressive."Matichon feels the oil price heat," The Nation, 10 August 2005
  • Thai Post - Estimated circulation in 2000 was estimated to average approximately 30,000. Its political stance is considered the most progressive of all Thai dailies.
  • Naew Na - Estimated daily circulation was claimed to average 300,000 in 2002. Editorial line is progressive.

Business Dailies

  • Krungthep Turakij - Circulation is in the 80,000-100,000 range. Owned by the Nation Multimedia Group. This paper is also popular with Thai intellectuals. Political stance is progressive.
  • Post Today - Has circulation of approximately 100,000. Owned by Post Publishing Pcl, publishers of the Bangkok Post.
  • Phoojadkarn Daily - Circulation is around 100,000. This is the core asset of Sondhi Limthongkul's media empire, Manager Media Group. The online edition of the paper is Thailand's most popular news website.


English-language Dailies

  • Bangkok Post - Circulation is approximately 75,000. Its major shareholders include the Chirathivat family (owners of Central Group), the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong and GMM Grammy Pcl, a local media and entertainment firm.
  • The Nation - Circulation is in the 60,000-80,000 range. It is the flagship publication of the Nation Multimedia Group. Maintains a progressive editorial line.
  • International Herald Tribune - Circulation is somewhere in the 5,000-10,000 range. In 2005-06, editions printed in Bangkok carried an insert of local news called ThaiDay in a partnership with Sondhi Limthongkul's Manager Media Group; however, ThaiDay folded due to financial difficulties.


Semi-weekly Business Newspapers

  • Prachachart Turakij - Owned by Matichon Pcl.
  • Siam Turakij
  • Than Settakij

Weekly Business Newspapers

  • Krungthep Turakij Biz Week - Part of Nation Multimedia Group.
  • Phujatkarn Weekly - Owned by the Manager Media Group.


Weekly Newsmagazines

  • Matichon Weekly - Part of Matichon Pcl. Average circulation in 2003-2004 according to the International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) was 300,000.
  • Nation Weekend - Owned by Nation Multimedia Group. According to FIPP, circulation in 2003-2004 was 150,000.


Monthly and other Newspapers


Korat (Nakhonratchasima)- Note that there are well over 100 local newspapers in NE Thailand. Each of the 19 provinces in the region has its own newspapers, and quality varies considerably.


The Korat Post- NE Thailand's first and currently (8/18/06) local English language newspaper, (http://www.thekoratpost.com) is published monthly in Nakhonratchasima (Korat), Thailand, by Mrs. Tongmuan Anderson, wife of former Thailand US Peace Corps volunteer Frank G Anderson. The paper derives its news from local and visiting sources, from village events to national occurrences.This monthly tabloid paper, begun in April 1999, is independent and has even indicated its oppositon, editorially, to government policies. It also provides translations of other local Thai language papers for English readers.


The Korat Daily (http://www.koratdaily.com), which prints the Korat Post, is a weekly Thai language newspaper, the largest circulated local in NE Thailand, a region of some 22 million inhabitants. Owned by Mr. Soontorn Junrungsee, the paper maintains strong international links with various news organizations and provides in-depth coverage of local, regional and international affairs.




The Internet in Thailand is among the most free of media in the country, though it still comes under government scrutiny. The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology actively blocks Thai ISPs from accessing websites it deems offensive, mainly pornography sites, but political sites, particularly those having to do with the South Thailand insurgency are also blocked.


One of the largest Internet forums in Thailand is Pantip.com, which often contains political discussions and criticism of the government, is allowed to freely operate. However, users are required to register their identities using their national identification number. The website of Midnight University was ordered shut down by the military junta after the 2006 Thailand coup.


Extracted from Wikipedia: Media of Thailand

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