Thailand's TV wars
Shinawatra versus Vejjajiva, the savvy of a media magnate politician versus the the state media machine.
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2010 07:58

On The Listening Post this week: TV wars in Thailand as the political turmoil gets worse. And in Kyrgyzstan, a government is toppled and the opposition zeroes in on state television.

It is the battle of red versus yellow, Shinawatra versus Vejjajiva, the savvy of a media magnate politician versus the state media machine. Over the last two months, Thailand has seen an escalation of its long running political troubles.

Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the deposed former prime minister, took to the streets, demanding that the government - led by Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister - call fresh elections.

For both sides, the media has been crucial: The government has made sure to leverage its considerable control over Thai state TV and Shinawatra's camp has fought hard against official pressure on its TV channel and websites.

But for those keeping these media outlets operational, there could soon no longer be a choice between state or opposition control - the Thai military is chomping at the bit and the media could well be under martial law soon.

In our News Divide this week, we delve into the power struggles of Thailand's deeply factionalised media landscape.

Media battle in Kyrgyzstan

The theme of politically manipulated media continues in the second half of our show with a report filed by Simon Ostrovsky.

In the aftermath of the angry protests that overthrew the government of Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, opposition forces took control of the state-owned broadcaster.

They installed at its helm a new director to put out programming that fit the script being written by the new government.

As Simon reports, in Kyrgyzstan it is a case of a tired history repeating itself, and the new powers that be are determined that they will be successful - even if it means doing exactly what they so disliked in the Bakiyev regime: Keeping state media a puppet of the government and ensuring that the authorities have total control over the media message in Kyrgyzstan.

In our Newsbytes section, we look at the latest legal twist in the case of the violent murder of over 30 journalists in the Philippines last year; the media crackdown in Iran continues with the recent harsh sentence passed against film-maker Mohammad Nourizad; and with travel paralysed across Europe, we look at just how helpful social media was in getting people mobile.

For our video of the week, we scoured the website of one of our favourite cartoon animators - Mark Fiore. Based in San Francisco, Fiore produces some really intelligent cartoon commentary on current affairs. He is so good he caught the eye of the jury judging this year's Pulitzer Awards and his prize marks the first time a Pulitzer has been awarded to a web cartoonist.

So this week, we decided to show you just what is so special about Mark Fiore's work. Here is his take on the Vatican in crisis management mode. Watch it here.

This episode of The Listening Post can be seen from Friday, April 23, at the following times GMT: Friday: 1230; Saturday: 1030, 2230; Sunday: 1930; Tuesday: 0630; Wednesday: 0030, 1430; Thursday: 0530.

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