A Thai TV station’s cancellation of the primetime soap opera “Nua Mek 2,” due to what the station called “inappropriate” content, has caused an uproar among fans of the popular mini-series series, many of whom believe the decision was “politically motivated.”
Channel 3, the television station that previously showcased the program, pulled the plug on the drama just two episodes before its finale, after “having considered that some content was inappropriate for broadcast,” the Associated Press reported.
In an on-screen message, the station told viewers, "Channel 3 would like to apologise to its viewers for not being able to broadcast ‘Nua Mek 2’ because its content is deemed inappropriate.”
The show premiered on Dec. 14 and followed the story of a fictitious Thai political cabinet made up of a prime minister, his corrupt deputy, and sorcerer who used black magic to manufacture favorable political results, reported the Bangkok Post. The show’s angle was that the prime minister had died and was being possessed by a necromancer.
Due to “Nua Mek 2”’s many political parallels, sources close to the show are claiming to find its cancellation suspicious. Actress Chalida Wijitwongthong, who starred on the show as a Dr. Praepalin Niwakul, posted about the cancellation on her Instagram account, calling it political interference.
Although Channel 3 has not discussed the specifics of what went into their decision, a network executive told Peerapong Manakit, a member of NBTC , Thailand’s broadcast regulator, that the channel was worried that some of the content in “Nua Mek 2” was illegal.
According to reports, the executive specifically mentioned Section 37 of the Broadcast and Telecommunications Operations Act, which prohibits "content that seeks to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, threatens national security or morality, or constitutes profanity or causes severe harm to people's mental or physical health."
Although Thailand has been described as being “heavy-handed” about censorship (cigarettes, alcohol, and some acts of violence are blurred on television) the Associated Press reported that it is rare for a program to be cancelled prematurely.
The Thai government has so far denied being involved in the decision to cancel the show. On Saturday, Prime Minister's Office minister Warathep Rattanakorn told reporters, "Those who know best (about the issue) are the broadcaster, producers and related personnel.”
But the legal challenges to the show don’t seem to be convincing fans of “Nua Mek.” Popular “sex guru” Kampanart Tansithabudhkun, who hosts a late-night show on Channel 3, is apparently so upset over the move that he left his show on the channel in an act of protest.
"To neither be a hypocrite, hosting the show while criticising the channel, nor be false and shameless like someone in that society and in that television station, I have decided to quit the show, despite hosting it for 10 years," Tansithabudhkun wrote on his Facebook page.
The Thai Constitution Protection Association has said that it is seeking an order from NBTC to pressure Channel 3 into airing the final two episodes of the show. The TCPA said that if the organization refused its request it would petition a court in a week.
"It hurts the viewers' feelings and has infringed on the rights of Thai consumers. They have the constitutional right to watch it until the end," said Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the TCPA.