Thailand has seen its fair share of upheaval and turmoil in the past few years. In an attempt to quell public unrest over the next month, the ruling military junta has ordered national broadcasters to air all games of the soccer World Cup for free. Many Thais are under curfew but the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) believes they will be happy if they can watch World Cup games for free. This will please poorer Thais who could not afford the special digital box needed to view the games. The NCPO arranged that all matches would be televised for free on the army-owned stations. It is not such good news for the satellite channel RS, which paid over $20 million for the broadcasting rights.
NCPO leader Prayuth Chan-ocha said the move is to "return happiness to the Thai people". It is part of the junta's "happiness campaign" aimed at winning hearts and minds following last month's coup. The campaign has also seen free concerts and free haircuts for the poor. The junta is also promising to subsidise farmers, cap the costs of basic foods and start major infrastructure projects. Many soccer-mad Thais will have to watch the free games at home as there is a late-night curfew in most of the country. Thailand's national team is ranked 149th in the world rankings and has never qualified for the World Cup Finals. The tournament began on June the 12th and will finish on July the 13th.