WASHINGTON, D.C. — VOA responded to the Thai military’s suspension of radio and television broadcasts by expanding its programming on satellite and digital media, adding two new time slots to its news program, Hotline News.
“The takeover of the domestic media by the military in Thailand after the coup demonstrates the need for accurate and comprehensive reporting,” said Steve Redisch, VOA Executive Editor. “The people of Thailand want to know what is happening in their own country, and VOA will do what it takes to keep them informed.
Hotline News is expanding from five to seven days a week. VOA’s Thai Service will continue to broadcast on radio at its regular times of 6:00 a.m., 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Bangkok Time on AsiaSat 370. In addition, Hotline News will be simulcast on television and the Internet at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Bangkok time. The news program will also be available on the Thai Service’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
“With our 40 FM affiliates off the air, having a direct-to-home satellite feed gives us the ability to broadcast Hotline News into Thailand,” said Nittaya Maphungphong. “There is strong evidence that our audience is looking for new ways to get news from VOA. Our website traffic has jumped three fold and our Facebook page, which normally averages 6,000 to 7,000 views a week, increased to 202,000 this week.”
VOA Bangkok Bureau Chief Steve Herman interviewed U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney about the situation in Thailand and what it means for relations with the United States. Ambassador Kenney said, “The Thais will of course chart their own path. But as [U.S.] Secretary of State [John] Kerry has said, we really do call for an immediate return to a civilian government, the lifting of press restrictions, and respect for human rights and a path to elections.”
Herman was one of the first to report on Twitter that a coup was under way in Thailand and that the military had suspended the constitution and broadcasting, including VOA programming. He and other VOA reporters continue to cover the military coup from Thailand.