Some advertisers are considering pulling out their spending from television proy grammes of controversial TV host; Sorrayuth Suthassanajinda, sentenced to 13 years in jail for bribery.
Wannee Rattanaphon, chairwoman of the Media Agency Association of Thailand said she heard the information during the association’s meeting yesterday.
The association is expected to issue a statement today, she said.
Some advertisers, particularly in financial and banking sector, worried that their good goverance could be affected if they continued supporting and spending their budgets with Sorayuth’s TV programme as he is convicted to jail term on charge of cheating Bt318 million out of MCOT advertisement revenue.
Meanwhile the Channel 3 television station has continued to support well-known TV host Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda despite growing public pressure over his guilty verdict in a bribery scandal earlier this week.
The secretary general of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand, Mana Nimitmongkol, yesterday warned that if Channel 3 didn’t change its stance it might lose public support. “If you keep him, people may abandon you,” he said.
Surin Krittiyaphongphun, executive vice president of Channel 3 operator Bangkok Entertainment Co (BEC), said management agreed to continue supporting Sorrayuth in Monday’s executive meeting.
“Channel 3 has been working with Sorrayuth for more than 12 years and we acknowledge him as a member of Channel 3’s family and a pioneer in creating news content for the 46-year-old TV station,” Surin added.
While Channel 3 respects the Criminal Court’s decision, the process to reach a final ruling has long way to go, he said, adding that BEC planned to give Sorrayuth opportunities unless the final ruling finds him guilty.
On Monday, the Criminal Court found Sorrayuth guilty and sentenced him to 13 years and four months in jail. The wrongdoing committed by him, his staff and his firm Rai-Som caused damages of more than Bt138 million to MCOT, which operates Channel 9.
Sorrayuth, however, is now free on bail and yesterday he hosted his morning news programme on Channel 3 as usual.
In the evening, he also appeared onscreen interviewing the director general of the Revenue Department during another news programme that was broadcast on Channel 3.
On-usa Lamliengpol, president of the Advertising Association of Thailand, said yesterday that advertising budgets for any TV show were based on either clients or advertisers’ demand given audience ratings. Currently, Sorayuth hosts three news shows with advertising rates |ranging between Bt220,000 and Bt290,000 per minute. According to a source in the media industry, those programmes are now fully booked by advertisers. However, Mana warned brands that ran commercials in conjunction with Sorrayuth’s news programmes might be harmed by the association.
“People have the right to choose what to watch and what products to buy,” he said, suggesting that society at large would want to see advertisers stop running commercials on Sorrayuth’s shows.
Mana also asked how Channel 3 would show responsibility to society in regards to the case.
“Please provide answers to the public,” he said.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)’s subpanel regulating TV programming and scheduling is now seeking further clarification from Channel 3’s management.
Although Rai-Som was not directly governed by the NBTC, BEC needs to show responsibility because Channel 3 is under its licence, authorities said.
“We will summon the management from Channel 3,” said Paisal Kuwalairat, acting chairman of the NBTC subpanel, after a meeting failed to reach a conclusion yesterday.
He said the issue was directly related to media ethics besides being involved with broadcasting regulations.
The News Broadcasting Council and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, meanwhile, released a joint statement demanding that Channel 3 reconsider its stance on Sorrayuth’s case.
“We demand that Channel 3 executives review the role of Sorrayuth to set ethical standards for Thai media,” the statement said.
The two media bodies said Channel 3’s decision to let Sorrayuth continue in his role as a news host had increased doubts about media organisations’ ability to regulate themselves.
According to the joint statement, both organisations expect Channel 3 to suspend Sorrayuth at least until |the final court ruling as a show of responsibility and to set an ethical example.
Supinya Klangnarong, a member of the NBTC’s Broadcasting Committee, called for Channel 3 to suspend Sorrayuth to express its willingness to show social responsibility as a member of the media.