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TJA highlights new challenges for press freedom

(TJA/IFEX) - 3 May 2012 - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared May 3 of every year to be the World Press Freedom Day to emphasize the will and the principles of the freedom of the press and to remind all humans of the importance of the free press.

Amid divisive ideas and political ideologies that have led to the use of violence over the past years, the local media are now having difficulties, as several conflicting political parties have started their own media businesses including newspapers, satellite-broadcast televisions and social media, prompting the media who committed themselves to the principle of professional journalism to face a lot of challenges from these political groups. At the same time the media themselves have to face a lot of technological changes that affected their work in a wide range of media competition.

As such, the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) have realized the importance of the World Press Freedom Day today and issued a five–point statement as follows:

1. We call on all media to be aware of their responsibilities under the ethical framework to avoid provocation and violence amid the country's divisive politics even though the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression.

2. The local media must not be threatened and interfered by powerful figures in the state, the political groups, the influential figures and the vested interest groups.

3. We call on the government and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) to be sincere in reforming radio and television so that they can do their duties without interference from the state and the vested interest group to be in line with the will of the Constitution. The government itself should be more careful in the media intervention and should not use the state media as its political tool.

4. We call on the government to stop pushing for laws that are considered limiting to the right to freedom of expression such as an amendment to the Press Registration Act. And there must be no amendment to a clause that guaranteed the right to freedom of expression as stated in the Constitution.

5. We urge the public to acquire media literacy, to be open-minded and listen to a variety of media amid the country's divisive politics to prevent themselves from being political tools and at the same time civic media and social media users should also be aware of their reporting responsibilities.

The Thai Journalists Association
The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association

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