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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 01:37 GMT 02:37 UK
How Thai media carried coup news
Maj-Gen Prapass Sakuntanat
Military announcers read out statements on army Channel 5
As Thai military leaders orchestrated a coup d'etat on 19 September, BBC Monitoring observed that all Thai terrestrial television stations - channels 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 - had suspended regular broadcasts at about 2200 local time (1500 GMT).

In the place of regular programming, the stations began carrying music videos featuring footage of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

At 2250, all the terrestrial channels showed a written statement from the coup leaders, who called themselves the "administrative reform group".

The group stressed that it had no intention of becoming the administrators of the country.

The statement said: "Now the administrative reform group under the democratic system with the king as the head of state, comprising commanders of the armed forces and the national police bureau, has gained, without any resistance, full control of the situation in Bangkok metropolis and nearby provinces."

The statement also called on Thai citizens to co-operate with the group "for the sake of maintaining peace and order in the country" and apologised "for the inconvenience".

All terrestrial channels featured a senior army announcer reading the script, followed by more music videos featuring the king.

As the TV channels broadcast the message that the armed forces had taken over the country, a spokesman for elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was attending a UN General Assembly meeting in New York, insisted that his government was still in control.

But the news never reached Thailand, as major Thai cable television provider UBC - which carries CNN and BBC as part of a package of Thai and foreign news and entertainment channels - had been off the air since 2330.

Footage of king

The Royal Thai Army channel (Channel 5) started broadcasting statements about the coup and giving orders in the form of communiques. The military leaders declared 20 September a public holiday.

The channel alternated between screen shots announcing a military takeover, and various statements from the "administrative reform group" read by announcers from the military.

There were repeated broadcasts of an announcement calling on senior civil servants to report to Thai army command on 20 September at 0900 local time, for a meeting to inform them about the reform group's policies.

The army channel also showed footage of King Bhumibol, accompanied by music praising his accomplishments and devotion to development and helping villagers. The images were similar to the short films traditionally shown at Thai movie theatres before the main feature.

An announcer from the channel said that the king had called in the heads of the army, navy, and air force, and the supreme commander to report on the situation at about midnight Bangkok time. It broadcast footage of the military convoy to the palace and the announcer asked viewers to stand by for further announcements.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.


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