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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Thailand is a southeast Asian country with a population of 65 million and capital city of Bangkok. The country has one of the world's fastest-growing economies but the wealth is not reaching the poorer regions in the east. [1]


The BBC says of the country's media:

The government and military control nearly all the national terrestrial television networks and operate many of Thailand's radio networks. The media are free to criticise government policies, and cover instances of corruption and human rights abuses, but journalists tend to exercise self-censorship regarding the military, the monarchy, the judiciary and other sensitive issues. A series of media reforms are under way, aimed at reducing military interest and influence in the media and opening up more opportunities to the private sector.
The Nation daily reported in 2007 that Thailand's 12 million active internet users faced "some of the world's toughest measures on internet filtering". Pornographic sites, anti-monarchy sites and anti-government sites were being targeted, the paper said.[2]

Some media outlets:[2]

  • TV5 - owned by Royal Thai Army
  • Television of Thailand (TVT) Channel 11 - operated by National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT), part of government Public Relations Department
  • Radio Thailand - national network and external service operated by National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT), part of government Public Relations Department
  • Army Radio - network owned by Royal Thai Army

Examples of public relations in Thailand

  • The report Public Relations Education and Teaching in Thailand by Daradirek Ekachai says that, "Public relations practice in Thailand has developed from a primarily persuasive, one-way communication in the 1930s toward a two-way communication in the 1990s, with practitioners making increased use of management and research skills. Public relations education in Thailand began in 1965 at Chulalongkorn University. Currently, public relations courses are offered at undergraduate and graduate levels at 21 universities in Thailand, 11 of which offer a concentration in public relations."[3]
  • The Customs Department of Thailand describes some of the country's media and public relations by saying, "The television and radiobroadcasting sector in Thailand falls under the control of three major government bodies, the Mass Communications Organization of Thailand (MCOT), the Public Relations Department of Thailand (PRD), and the Royal Thai Army Radio and Television (RTA). These three largest players own more than two-thirds of the airwaves nationwide."[4]
  • The book International Public Relations: A Comparative Analysis by Hugh M. Culbertson and Ni Chen says, "Public relations is now practiced widely in various types of organizations. In 1993, it was reported that 1,810 governmental units, state enterprises, corporations, and nonprofit organizations (317 in Bangkok metropolitan and 1,493 in other 71 provinces) carried out at least some type of public relations activities."[5]
  • When a TV station in Thailand, iTV, was taken over by the Public Relations Department of the government, the Bangkok Post described it this way:
The cabinet agreed to "temporarily" halt broadcasts by iTV effective at midnight on Tuesday, until a further ruling from the Council of State, expected to be on Friday at the earliest.
"iTV will be shut down from March 7, when its concession is revoked, until there is clarity on legal issues from the Council of State," Prime Minister's Office Minister Dhipawadee Meksawan told reporters.
She said iTV would need to terminate all its operations on Wednesday and hand over all its equipment and assets to the government after the company failed to meet Tuesday's deadline to repay fees amounting to 2.2 billion baht (61 million dollars) and fines of 100 billion baht (2.8 billion).
The Prime Minister's Office has assigned the Public Relations Department to manage the station once the contract is revoked.[6]


The tobacco industry in Thailand is a state-owned monopoly. Thai government created the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly or TTM, after British American Tobacco was forced to sell its tobacco industry to the Thai government during WWII as a result of the Japanese occupation. Since the Thai tobacco industry is a monopoly, other foreign companies are not allowed to manufacture tobacco products in Thailand. [7]

The U.S. has argued that the Thai Tobacco Monopoly is a government-imposed trade barrier and has lobbied for access to Thai markets. Access to the Thai markets for U.S. tobacco companies is important because of the significant and steady decline in U .S. cigarette consumption. [8] In May 1989, the U.S. Trade Representative initiated a section 301 action against Thailand with the objective of eliminating Thai barriers against the importation of U.S. cigarettes. Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 is the principal statutory authority under which the United States may impose trade sanctions against foreign countries that maintain practices that deny U.S. trade rights or benefits or pose an "unreasonable or discriminatory and burden" or restrict U.S. commerce.[9]

The Thai cigarette market was opened to foreign brands in 1991, and cigarettes imported into Thailand are charged a 22.5 percent tariff from ASEAN countries and a 60 percent tariff from non-ASEAN countries. [10]

A Ministerial Regulation (B.E. 2540) issued under Thailand's Tobacco Products Control Act of (1992 requires all manufacturers of cigarettes in and importers of cigarettes into Thailand to declare, on a by-brand basis, the amount (in milligrams per cigarette) of each ingredient added to tobacco in the manufacture of its brands. This upset U.S. manufacturers, who did not want to disclose ingredients or reveal trade secrets. The Thai Ministry of Public Health agreed to keep the information secret.[11][12]


PR Watch


  1. Thailand, National Geographic, accessed January 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Country profile: Thailand, BBC, accessed January 2008.
  3. Public Relations Education and Teaching in Thailand, ERIC, November 19, 1994.
  4. Broadcast Equipment- Thailand, US Commercial Service, accessed January 2008.
  5. Public Relations in Thailand: Its Functions and Practioners' Roles, Google Book Search, accessed January 2008.
  6. Thailand: iTV loses concession, Bangkok Post, March 6, 2007.
  7. United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service Web Site FAS Online -Thailand, accessed March 24, 2009
  8. No title Executive summary. 47 pp. May 15, 1990. Philip Morris Bates No.2500078979/9025, at page 8
  9. Jean Heilman Grier. U.S. Department of Commerce Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, March, 2005
  10. United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service Web Site FAS Online -Thailand, accessed March 24, 2009
  11. Philip Morris Report 1989. 1 page. Bates No. 2072183300
  12. T. Berdacke, Financial Times Thai dilemma for tobacco companies, May 2, 1997. Bates No. 2072585702

External articles

External resources