Thaksin family TV Channel shutting down by the end of May. Voice TV, a prominent Thai online broadcaster, is to suspend operations citing media saturation and mission fulfilment. The media outlet has played a significant role in political turmoil since the 2006 coup.

On Friday, one of Thailand’s well-known online TV channels announced it was closing by the end of May. The Shinawatra family-owned Voice TV appeared to suggest that it was closing because of the proliferation of media in the kingdom. Additionally, there was the suggestion that its work campaigning for democracy was done. The TV channel played a key role during the tumultuous years of conflict following the 2006 coup d’état. This included the period right through to student protests against the government of General Prayut Chan Ocha. The company that runs the media outlet is understood to have suffered significant losses.

Voice TV, which lost over ฿1.17 billion in six years from 2017 to 2022, will shut down by May 31st. The announcement came on Friday. The online TV outlet has played a pivotal role in Thailand’s political history since being founded by Mr Panthongtai Shinawatra, or ‘Oak,’ (right) in 2008 with ฿300 million in capital.

Voice TV, the satellite and online TV broadcaster is to cease operations by May 31st. The media outlet made the announcement on Friday, April 26th.

In a ‘farewell’ message issued on social media channels, X and Facebook, it highlighted its bond with its viewers.

Online TV came into being in 2008 at the height of redshirt protests against the political aftermath of the 2006 coup which removed Mr Thaksin as PM

The news channel, with a focus on politics, has informed its Thai viewers since the heady days of red-shirt protests in 2008 after the 2006 coup d’état.

In the meantime, it has played a role as an alternative media outlet amid sixteen years of political conflict.

The backroom deal in August 2023 which saw the formation of the Pheu Thai-led coalition and the return of Thaksin Shinawatra is understood to have brought an end to that particular struggle.

‘We have been through many crises,’ the Voice TV announcement declared. ‘Through important events, both political demonstrations and coups, overcoming the Covid crisis, and the disruption of the media industry from satellite to digital TV online and social platforms.’

The message suggested that the mission of Voice TV had ended. It referred to democracy ‘taking root’ in Thailand.

Founded by the ex-premier’s son Oak with a capital of ฿300 million. Figures show it burned through well over five times that in the last sixteen years On Air

The media outlet was founded in 2008 by Panthongtai Shinawatra, or ‘Oak,’ the son of Thaksin Shinawatra.

The initial budget was ฿300 million with the company being HowCome Entertainment, which subsequently became Voice TV Co Ltd.

Initially available only on satellite and online, it applied for a digital TV licence in 2013. At length, it broadcasted on the national digital TV platform until 2019. 

In brief, along with other TV operations, it handed back its licence to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) at that time.

However, it continued as a political news outlet afterwards online.

Its social media and YouTube channels have become increasingly popular.

At the same time, the company was operating in a crowded and competitive marketplace, such is presently the Thai media firmament in 2024.

Always a pro-Thaksin media voice although the Voice TV channel also spawned key leaders of the growing Progressive Movement behind the Move Forward Party

Voice TV was always seen as a pro-Thaksin or Shinawatra family outlet.

Nonetheless, many of its stars who went further into politics moved into the progressive sphere. These included Pannika Wanich and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, key leaders of the Progressive Movement.

The Progressive Movement is the force behind the disbanded Future Forward Party and soon-to-be-disbanded Move Forward Party.

Undoubtedly, this political force is growing in Thailand, driven by the support of younger generations.

Certainly, Voice TV played a key role during the student-led protests from 2020 to 2023. At the height of these disturbances in October 2020, it was ordered shut by court order. 

This came after a request was made by then Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Buddhipongse Punnakanta.

Legal victory in 2020 was significant for press freedom

Afterward, the TV station along with other media outlets successfully had the order overturned the next day. Significantly, the Criminal Court found that the 2017 Constitution protected their right to free speech.

Undoubtedly, it was a significant development. It put General Prayut’s government on notice that the constitution protected press rights, something respected later by the 2014 coup leader.

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However, the media operation, which currently employs 100 staff, continued to lose money.

Figures available through the Department of Business Administration show that the firm had a deficit of ฿800 million up to 2022.

Certainly, the losses of the firm were even more substantial. In the six years from 2017 to 2022 alone, the media firm lost ฿1.174 billion on an income of ฿567.16 million.

Voice TV, on Friday, promised to compensate its laid-off workforce fairly.

‘We pride ourselves on making a contribution to society,’ the TV channel’s announcement concluded.

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