Court to try TDRI academic, TPBS TV host over defamation

The Criminal Court will begin the trial of the defamation case filed by members of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissions (NBTC) against a think-tank academic and a TV host for defamation. 
In August, NBTC Office and four NBTC members sued Dr. Duenden Nikhomborirak, Research Director of Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), and Nattha Komolwanich, a TPBS channel’s show host for conducting TV interview stating that NBTC’s extended concession of 1800 MHz frequency spectrum for operators for another year has cost the state to lose income around 140 billion baht.
Sutthipol Thaweechaikarn, one of the NBTC commissioner who press charge against the defendants, said the legal case needed to be pursued to protect the dignity of NBTC commissioners who were violated of rights and misunderstood by the public, due to inaccurate information given by the academic and media. 
“We are confident of our evidence and will fight the case to the end to protect the organisation’s reputation from wrong accusations,” said Sutthipol
Media organisations including Thai Journalists Association as well as university faculties condemned the charged brought against the Duenden and Nattha, saying that it undermines media and academic freedom. The Media Defense Southeast Asia, an NGO working on media freedom, in September called for NBTC to withdraw the charge immediately. 
Suthipol however insisted that NBTC was not trying to threaten or stop the media to report the issues, but rather to help academic institution raise higher research standard before releasing to the public. 
Duenden, also a subcommittee on 1800 MHz frequency auction preparation, said she would be willing to stand the trial, and urge members of the press to observe the hearing, which will start from June 30, 2014. 
The “minority” NBTC commissioner Supinya Klangnarong previously expressed disagreement with the charge, saying that the case wasn’t consulted with all commissioners, even though the charged was done on behalf of NBTC office. She said NBTC should instead listen for all criticism with open mind rather than respond with lawsuits.  


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