Channel 3: 'No politics' in soap ban

TV Channel 3 said violent content forced executives to cancel the finale of the soap opera "Nua Mek 2" and insisted no political interference was involved.

It was the first time the TV station publicly addressed the reason for its decision to abruptly end the series last Friday, with three episodes still to go. It was replaced by a new show.

Officials at Channel 3 screened the content of the last three programmes and decided to cancel public showings, said Borisut Buranasamrit, public relations managing director at Channel 3.

The decision to end the soap opera was not politically motivated, he said. "The station has not received any orders from any politician," Mr Borisut said.

The station found the content of the controversial drama series to be too violent, leading to the decision to end it prematurely, he said.

The station's action drew heavy criticism from many viewers, who believed that political interference was the reason behind the cancellation of the show.

But Suwanna Sombatraksasuk, former president of the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand, told a seminar organised by Chulalongkorn University's Communcation Arts Faculty on Tuesday that she was worried that the saga showed media freedom is under threats.

Channel 3 claimed that the series breached Section 37 of the Broadcast and Telecommunications Operations Act.

But Ms Suwanna said the claim was groundless. "I have watched 'Nua Mek 2' and found nothing that would suggest such thing," she said.

Section 37 bars broadcast content that seeks to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, threatens national security or morality, constitutes profanity or harms people's mental or physical health.

Supinya Klangnarong, a commisioner of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), challenged the station on the claim.

"If Channel 3 really believes 'Nua Mek 2' violated Section 37, it should send NBTC the tape. We will then investigate and verify. If it does not violate the law, then it will be aired," Mrs Supinya said.

The NBTC will use its authority to arrange a meeting with Channel 3's representatives as soon as possible. The commission will try to resolve the conflict within the upcoming week.

Supaporn Pohkaew, the Mass Communication Department chief, said the ban was a curb on freedom of viewers to watch soap operas.

"The public has the rights to choose what to watch and to decide what to believe. Is it justifiable for our rights to be taken away in our own home?" she said.

Related search: Nua Mek 2, ban, Channel 3

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Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin and Nattawat Watanasuwan