Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Quality of Thai Media: Empirical Proposals on "Prime Minister's Eggs" Discourse

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Quality of Thai Media: Empirical Proposals on "Prime Minister's Eggs" Discourse

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study aims to point out the issue of media "quality", another flaw that has scarcely been acknowledged or discussed while "freedom" of the press is repeatedly debated, through the "prime minister's eggs" discourse that the media have created and reproduced extensively from remote past to present days in Thai society to justify the government's competency in economic management when egg price rises or drops, by means of advanced quantitative methodology. Hence, time series data on the egg price, minimum wage, and core consumer price index have been employed in the advanced statistical analyses, regression analysis and Johansen's cointegration test, for that purpose.

The regression analysis show that the two pairs-egg price and minimum wage, and egg price and core consumer price index-both have positive correlations at statistical significance of .01, but Johansen's cointegration test indicates no cointegrating relationship between the pairs either at .05 or .01 level. This implies that bringing the egg price issue to justify the government's competency in economic management is the media's major misconception, which in reality may be a more pressing concern to be reformed than freedom.

Keywords: Thai media, prime minister's eggs discourse, government's competency

1. Introduction

1.1 Current Trends of "Media Reform"

Media are expected to be "watchdogs" (Fog, 2004, p. 1), reporting news and information that are true, factual, comprehensive, appropriate (Trirat & Chaiwat, 2004, p. 50) and non-scandalous (Chaisang, 2009, p. 182), and self-regulating fairly towards equality, liberty, duty, and integrity, as well as subject to the laws (Vejjajiva, 2010a).

However, in practice, the media have been severely criticised contrariwise as being organisations without actual freedom (Phongpaichit, 2006) and full of conflicts of interest while conducting public administration duties and businesses with the government party, which has mass communication business groups as a bridge to political power. It has been so since Pheu Thai Party was elected in early 2001, but become apparent in 2003 (Phiphitkul, 2004, p. 137-138), yet still has a tendency to get worse (Phongpaichit, 2006).

For that reason, they have been severely criticised on inequality by a veteran politician that "during the past three years, the mainstream mass media of Thailand played a very big part in de-democratising the country" (Chaisang, 2009, p. 181).

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the 27th Prime Minister of Thailand, is another person who has also criticised on how the media operated during the nation's chaos in the recent years in a serious manner, notably on the programme "Confidence in Thailand with Prime Minister Abhisit" aired via the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand and Radio Thailand on Sunday 9th May 2010 as follows:

"Fractions of the media have become a part of the political dispute, stirring up animosity and violence. And sometimes, these mediums are exploited, put it simply, as a command centre for provocation, for fomentation. This needs to be sorted out"

Subsequently, Abhisit Vejjajiva (2010b) thus cited "media reform" as an important task on Thailand's national agenda according to his five-point roadmap to national reconciliation, together with forming a "Working Group on Media Reform" as one of the five committees after Red Shirt protests.

1.2 Not Only "Liberty" But Also "Quality"

Under such pressure, there were at least three conferences and seminars among the relevant parties conducted:

Firstly, a joint seminar "Media and Democracy in Crisis: What Roles and Responsibilities for the Thai Media?" of the Commission on Human Rights, Rights and Liberties Consumer Protection, the Senate, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Thailand on 28th May 2009;

Secondly, a joint national conference on mass communication "Media Reform towards Social Reform" of Thai Journalists Association, the National Press Council of Thailand, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, ISRA Institute Thai Press Development Foundation, and Sripatum University on 22nd July 2010; and

Thirdly, a public joint seminar "Media Reform: Discuss the Problems and Reach for Resolution" of the Commission for Mass Media Liberty and Responsibility Promotion, Second Generation of Middle-Level Mass Communication Management Course Educators, and Thai Health Promotion Foundation on 25th September 2010. …

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