National Press Council of Thailand
The National Press Council of Thailand was formed in 1997 with the mission to promote the freedom and responsibility of the press and to monitor and ensure the quality of news by adhering to codes of ethics. Details can be found on the official website of National Press Council of Thailand.
The press council free from the interference of the state or political parties, is constituted by publishers, editors and journalists. As understood from interview with honorary council member Joompol Rodcumdee, the press council can impose its code of ethics only on the member newspapers. Membership as well as the compliance with the Code of Ethics are voluntary. The council publishes open letters to publicly condemn newspapers or individual journalists when there is violation of journalistic ethics. Journalists reportedly have been disapproved in public for accepting bribes and expensive gifts in exchange of favourable reports. However, there are some challenges that constrain the effectiveness of the press council. It can initiate action against erring publications only if an official complaint is registered. Rodcumdee also said that some newspapers in the past withdrew membership to dodge the Code of Ethics of the press council. It was learnt from the interview that in recent times the council has registered complaints of self-censorship of journalists in news dealing with advertisers or the newspaper owners, which has prompted plans to propose legal protection of journalists’ freedom. To address the gap between the theoretical presence and practical implementation of Code of Ethics and stress the importance of self-regulation, the press council organises interactive sessions between editors and media sholars and also conducts training sessions for journalists on political reporting.
Though the press council functions independently in Thailand, many media professionals, journalists and editors expressed doubt on its effectiveness in promoting ethical reporting. The editor of an English language daily in Thailand said in an interview that the council has not been too successful in taking action against the media in cases where citizens’ privacy was compromised through sensational reporting. Supinya Klangnarong of CPMR said in an interview that in recent times the roles of the Press Council and journalist associations have been doubted. While the council routinely criticised former Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra for abusing press freedom, it was not as vocal in its criticism of the military regime that too compromised with the media’s right of freedom.Back to top