Thai opposition 'Red Shirt' TV station to go back on air

Jatuporn Prompan (centre), leader of the Thai opposition "Red Shirt" movement speaks to the press at the Army club in Bangkok on June 18, 2015.
Jatuporn Prompan (centre), leader of the Thai opposition "Red Shirt" movement speaks to the press at the Army club in Bangkok on June 18, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - A Thai court on Thursday issued an injunction allowing a television network run by the opposition "Red Shirt" movement to resume broadcasting after it was taken off air for breaking a junta ban on political programming.

Thailand's sharply polarised political channels were one of the first casualties of the censorship imposed after the May 2014 military coup.

A ban on them was later lifted on the condition they stayed clear of controversial issues, but in April Red Shirt mouthpiece Peace TV was ordered off air after junta leaders and the national broadcasting regulator accused it of breaking the rules.

But on Thursday the station won its bid to resume broadcasts.

"The Central Administrative Court has relaxed the decision of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission which withdrew the license of Peace TV," the Bangkok court said in a statement.

It added that the station must cooperate with the junta's broadcasting rules and that its injunction would come into effect Saturday.

Red Shirt chairman Jatuporn Prompan, whose daily programme on Peace TV was accused of causing "divisions and misunderstandings", said he would suspend his personal show until the dispute was fully resolved.

"We will take three days to prepare and begin (TV) broadcasting again on Monday," he told AFP.

His show can still be watched on YouTube where Peace TV also broadcasts.

The Red Shirts, officially known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), back the toppled government of former premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

Post-coup, their leaders have either renounced the cause, fled into self-exile or - like Jatuporn - agreed to abandon politics.

The military takeover last year was the latest crisis in a kingdom that has been riven by bitter political divisions since 2006, when Yingluck's brother Thaksin was ousted in an earlier military coup, backed by the Bangkok-based royalist establishment.

The capital-based elites despise the Shinawatras - wildly popular in the north and northeast and whose parties have won every election since 2001 - accusing them of poisoning politics with populism, corruption and cronyism.