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Most TV stations in Thailand consider audiences as consumers, says study


March 25, 2007: A survey conducted in Thailand has reveled that television stations mostly consider audiences as just consumers and not citizens.

Professor Uajit Virojtrairatt, director of Chulalongkorn University’s Media Monitoring project, tracked the programming of all six free-TV stations in Thailand for the study.

The survey, titled Do Thai TV Stations Take Audiences to Be Consumers or Citizens? showed that 69.4% of the programming of the six channels was designed towards selling products, while 30.6% regarded the audience as citizens whose efforts are necessary to develop the country further.

The survey covered all programming round the clock from February 1-7, 2007.

In an age of political reform, Professor Uajit Virojtrairatt said, television stations should adjust their programming to encourage political participation and instil a sense of citizenship among audiences. Programme content should be meant to strengthen social development.

In the matter of content, only Modernine TV and Channel 11 gave importance to social programmes over programmes that target audiences as consumers.

The survey also showed that Channel 5, even though owned by the state, was planned in a such a way as to air more commercial programmes.

Even at iTV or TITV, which started as a news channel, the ratio of commercial programming is as high as 64.9%, Prof Uajit Virojtrairatt said. This shows the tendency of the channel to produce programmes to satisfy interest groups.

Channels 7 and Channel 3 are those with the highest ratio of commercial programmes, and they enjoy the highest ratings.

This shows that in Thai society, Professor Uajit says, audiences are being encouraged to buy and sell products rather than to become good citizens who take part in social development. Audiences are being moulded to care only for their personal interests.

The survey by the Chulalongkorn University’s Media Monitoring project came amid opinions from academics that it was time for Thailand have a public television station that presented content-based programmes, not commercial programmes to please advertisers.

Saree Aongsomwang, manager of a consumer foundation, said Thais were not yet ready to be good citizens, because they were more inclined to be consumers.

According to Nuannoi Trirat, economics lecturer of Chulalongkorn University, Thais today are not in the mood to learn. “They expressed in the survey that they favoured entertainment programmes. Even though state channels are pampering them with good content, they simply stay away from those channels.”







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