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Thai Printing Company Refuses To Issue Today's 'New York Times'

The front page of Tuesday's edition of the <em>International New York Times</em>, with a story about Thailand's king.
New York Times
The front page of Tuesday's edition of the International New York Times, with a story about Thailand's king.

The newspaper whose motto is "All the news that's fit to print" didn't meet a printer's requirements in Thailand on Tuesday. The printer opted to skip a day of The New York Times after deciding that a story about Thailand's future — and its king's health — was inappropriate.

The story was the lead item on the front page of the edition of the International New York Times, featuring a large photo of a woman holding a portrait of the king outside a hospital.

Michael Sullivan reports for our Newscast unit:

"The local printer declined to publish the paper today calling the story "As Thai King Ails, Crown's Future Unclear" too sensitive for Thailand, where there are strict laws against defaming the monarchy and lengthy jails terms for those convicted of doing so.

"The story dealt with the declining health of the 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej — and the possible succession — and that was too much, it seems, for the printer."

The newspaper explained the skipped day to its subscribers in a letter that said the decision was made by the locally contracted printer, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. The news agency adds that a woman who answered the phone at the printer's office didn't want to comment.

The story is available online. An excerpt:

"Worries over the transition have accelerated an extremely delicate debate over what kind of monarchy Thailand should have. Delicate because not only is Bhumibol still living, but any open discussion of the subject is severely circumscribed by a strict lèse-majesté law that makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen or heir-apparent.

"The law is interpreted broadly, and barely a month goes by without someone being convicted under it and sent to jail for up to 15 years."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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