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03 March 2024

Political fracas after Thai soap opera axed


A Thai soap opera has become the latest victim of the country's bitter divisions, the opposition party said on Sunday, claiming the prime-time show was axed after "political interference".

Drama "Nuer Mek 2" (Above the Clouds) was abruptly pulled off air by privately-owned broadcaster Channel 3 on Friday because of "inappropriate contents", sparking a flurry of protest on social media as the government denied claims it was behind the decision.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut of the opposition Democrat party called for an investigation into the cancellation, suggesting that the programme was "banned because of its themes of corruption".

"There was political interference," he told AFP.

Thailand has been racked with sometimes violent political divisions since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a 2006 coup.

The former premier, who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, is widely believed to retain sweeping influence over the country's ruling Puea Thai party.

Government spokesman Tosaporn Sereerak said there had been no effort to influence the broadcaster, adding that he had not found the content upsetting.

"I watched it a couple of times. It was about black magic as well as politics and even though I am a politician, I didn't feel abused by it," he said.

Almost 40,000 people have liked a Facebook page calling for the series -- which was due to run until Sunday -- to be returned to television screens.

No one from Channel 3 was available for comment.