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Thailand - Radio

Thailand has several hundred radio stations which broadcast on both AM and FM wave bands. Many of the radio stations are run by the government and other official organizations such as the military and universities. Some are directly controlled by these organizations while others are subcontracted to private firms.

Thailand has also had a large number of local radio stations which operate on a community level although the government has shut some of these down in the past for broadcasting on a stronger frequency than was permitted and interfering with other broadcasts. In recent months a number of radio stations have been closed down for voicing opposition to the government. In addition to these, there are hundreds if not thousands of illegally run radio stations in the country which work on a community level and which focus on political activity. In 2008, a new Broadcasting Act came into being which required all radio stations to have a licence issued by the broadcasting regulatory body.

As a result of the new act, all previous guidelines became obsolete as they were no longer officially recognised. This meant that there was now little regulation for broadcasting and the ‘illegal’ stations were now able to broadcast whatever they wanted. The concept of free speech had never bothered the mainstream stations as these were controlled by the government anyway.

In late 2010, the new broadcasting authority in Thailand was created to oversee telecoms and all forms of broadcasting. One of the tasks of the new body is to privatise parts of the broadcasting sector. This means that government will no longer be controlling radio and television broadcasts and that these then had the potential to become commercial.

The radio stations which are in existence in Thailand include some national stations. Many broadcast only in Thai, although there are some which broadcast in both English and Thai and some which broadcast in English only. As with other countries, most of these stations also stream their broadcasts online, so can be listened to no matter where you are.

English radio stations in Thailand cater for all tastes and some of the main ones are based in Bangkok. These include Wave FM 88 Bangkok. This is a station which features both British and US presenters and which has a variety of programmes from music to news. Virgin Hitz 95.5 FM is primarily a music station, but features music from Thailand as well as that from the UK and the US. Virgin Soft 103 FM is also a music station featuring love songs in both Thai and English. Easy FM 105.5 is a station which has classic hits and easy listening music in both Thai and English. MET 107 has some English language broadcasting although it does feature some programmes in Thai too. These are a mix of news, lifestyle and music programmes.

A popular English language station in the north and north-east of Thailand is Ricefield Radio. This is aimed at the English speaking community and broadcasts music from the US and Europe. The station is a community radio station which broadcasts around the clock. The station also gives listeners the opportunity to apply to have their own show.

In addition to these stations, many expats in Thailand take advantage of radio from their home country being broadcast over the internet. Stations such as the BBC World Service, CNN and Virgin Radio all stream programmes over the internet.

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