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Thai coup darkens dawn of digital TV

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A soldier stands guard June 1 outside a Bangkok shopping mall.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Gleaming new television studios across Bangkok were preparing to unveil a slew of fresh programs to launch Thailand's digital broadcasting age. The big day was May 25, when 24 commercial stations, which had invested billions of baht, were to formally begin transmitting on a digital platform after weeks of trial runs.

     But the country's powerful army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, disrupted these plans when he seized power May 22 in Thailand's latest military coup. The first to feel the boot of the new junta were the country's media, including the digital broadcasters. Among those swiftly silenced by draconian censorship rules imposed under martial law were Thailand's four free-to-air analogue TV stations, a public TV station, 200 satellite TV stations and 7,000 community radio stations. Only one TV station, the military-owned Channel Five, remained on air to relay the junta's edicts.

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