Radio and Television
Thailand has 523 radio stations, of which 211 are AM and 312 are FM. The AM system has 38 stations in Bangkok and 173 in the provinces, while the FM number 40 Bangkok stations and 272 provincial ones. Many fall under the aegis of the governmental Public Relations Department, which is responsible for Radio Thailand, the official broadcasting station, which in turn transmits the local and international news mandatorily broadcast by all Thai stations. Radio Thailandis also the official channel for government information.
Along with the Thai Television Co., Ltd., the Post and Telegraph Department, the Royal Thai Army, Navy and Air Force, the Police Department, Kasetsart and Chulalong korn Universities, and the Ministry of Education all operate radio stations. Except for the Education Ministry and RadioThailand, all other stations are commercial and rely heavily on advertising revenue to cover operating costs. Programming tends to resemble the commercial format popular in other countries, with music and talk shows the dominant fare.
In 1955,Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to begin regular television service. Thai television today offers numerous local channels, both government-run and private, as well as international cable TV channels. Since all but one station are commercial, shows must have popular appeal. These include imported programmes from the US, China and Japan, as well as locally produced documentaries, serialized dramas, and quiz and game shows. Educational programmes introduced as part of the courses offered by open-university systems are popular with audiences who pursue their studies in this way. Sports programmes, particularly local and overseas soccer, boxing matches and other such events, have a wide appeal.
The great majority of Thai films are made purely for entertainment. Tightly budgeted, they commonly feature actors and actresses with proven box-office appeal. Ghost stories, action-filled adventures and historical romances are the most popular; relatively few deal with the problems of daily life or politics.
The local film industry has suffered from competition by Western products, which are shown in the numerous new cinema complexes that have been opened in recent years inBangkokand other large cities. A few film-makers, however, have successfully adopted new techniques to appeal to younger audiences, with encouraging results at the box-office.
Historic Thai films are kept by the National Film Archives under the Department of Fine Arts. The collection includes footage of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) on one of his visits to England towards the end of the 19th century, as well as a film made by King Prajadhipok (Rama VII).