On Friday, the Thai lakorn (soap opera) Nua Mek 2 was taken off the air and the following message was aired on Channel 3:

 

Source: SIU

(Summarized translation: Nua Mek 2 is considered to have some content which is inappropriate to broadcast and we invite to watch the first episode of Raeng Prathana at 8:15pm.)

The Nation:

The drama, which made its debut on December 14, originally had 12 episodes and its ninth episode was aired last Sunday. Its 10th episode, which was to have been aired on Friday night, had reportedly been edited to incorporate episodes 11 and 12, so that it was set to be the drama’s last episode. The 10th episode, however, wasn’t aired because Channel 3 said it had “inappropriate content” and the 8:30pm slot was given to a drama called Raeng Prathana (Passion). This led to criticism in social media that the ban was because of “political intervention”.

The Bangkok Post:

Channel 3 yesterday pulled a drama series off the air just two hours before airing its final episode, citing inappropriate content.

The series Nua Mek 2 follows the story of a prime minister, his crooked deputy, and a sorcerer who performs black rites to manipulate the political power play.

The series features a character called Prae-pailin and a special investigation unit called the TSI.

The hook of the story is that the prime minister is already dead and his body is possessed by a necromancer.

The narrative also involves an attempt by villains to steal the four mythical weapons of Lord Naraya.

However, rumours have been rife since Wednesday that Channel 3 was being pressured to end the series before its epilogue.

Actress Chalida Wijitwongthong posted on her Instagram account on Wednesday that the series was being forced to end prematurely because of political interference.

Her agent said later, however, that Chalida was merely speculating.

BP: The suspicions of political interference were widespread.  The Democrats were clear in their view. AFP:

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

BP: The only source of political interference – aside from speculation – that BP can find is a mention in the Naew Na which quotes an entertainment industry source as stating there was a political order to stop showing the soap opera and to replace it with Raeng Prathana instead.

The Bangkok Post has a government denial:

The cancellation of the Channel 3 political soap opera “Nua Mek 2″ for “inappropriate content” had nothing to do with the government, says a Pheu Thai Party deputy spokesman.

“The government did not intervene or order [Channel 3] to take Nua Mek 2 off the air,” Jirayu Huangsap said on Saturday.

Then, later on Saturday, we got an alternative explanation. The Bangkok Post:

The commissioner said he has spoken with an executive at Channel 3 who told him the content of Nua Mek 2 breached Section 37 of the Broadcast and Telecommunications Operations Act.

Section 37 bars broadcast content that seeks to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, threatens national security or morality, constitutes profanity or harms people’s mental or physical health.

However, Lt Gen Peerapong said the executive did not say which specific part of Section 37 Nua Mek 2 might have violated.

The Nation:

Channel 3 executives abruptly terminated the controversial soap opera Nua Mek 2 on Friday night because of their concern its content could violate the law, a member of the broadcast regulator said yesterday.

Peerapong Manakit said he gathered from personal discussions with unnamed Channel 3 executives that the station was concerned the drama might violate Article 37 of the Radio and Television Broadcasting Business Act BE 2551 (2008). But he wasn’t told which parts of the drama had such violations.

Peerapong is chairman of the National Broadcast and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC)’s subcommittee in charge of content and programme slots.

Peerapong said the scrapping of the soap opera was an act of self-censorship by the station

BP: As of writing this (early Monday morning), BP hasn’t seen any other clarification from Channel 3

Sompop, the Executive Editor of Nation TV, posted on Facebook on Saturday stating, as summarized by BP below:

Spoken to friends in the soap opera industry…. and they have sent picture(s) [screenshots?] to me. I have checked and it is 100% real. For the Nua Mek lakorn there are many images that may be seen as repeating October 6, 1976 and it could be be lese majeste under 112. (I think that image(s) I am referring to will have people who have released them by now).

Then in comments section of the post, he adds (as summarized by BP), on this issue, Channel 3 ordered the cancellation themselves as they could lose their concession. The image is clearly lese majeste.

BP: BP has not seen the image(s) in question. Would understand that Sompop didn’t post the image or images as they were lese majeste, but it would be helpful to see the image(s) to put them into context and at least confirm as the major reason – there could be varying factors- why Nua Mek 2 was taken off air.

BP considers that BP reasonably closely – more closely than any sane person should! – follows Thai entertainment news and watches the odd soap opera. Even for semi-popular and popular ones, BP hears of plot lines and gossip from those who watch them. BP usually steers clear of science fiction, period, and “ghost” soap operas (Nua Mek 2 could be labelled as “science fiction”). It was not as though the soap opera was the talk of the town as painting Thaksin/Puea Thai in a bad light. In fact, BP still cannot remember reading a single mention or any news story about Nua Mek 2 whatsoever. The first BP had heard of Nua Mek 2 was when it was announced it was not being broadcast on Friday night.

NOTE: The main actor and actress are not newcomers, but are not typical soap opera stars that you could bank on; it was not Ann and Ken soap opera. A journalist tweets that it scored a 7.2 rating compared with 12.9 for the Channel 7 soap opera so it was not that popular either; it was no Raang Ngao.

Given all of this and that the 9 previous episodes have aired without controversy, it would be puzzling for the government to step in so the final episode was not broadcast. Then again, we don’t know what the final episode was about, and it is not implausible that someone from the government would try to shut the soap opera down given many in the pro-Thaksin camp are adverse to criticism. Nevertheless, Sompop’s explanation makes more sense to BP from what we know now…