World Cup 2014: Thailand's military junta promises every match will be screened for free

Thai junta has launched a "happiness" campaign to win public support after last month's military coup
  • @mariatad

Thailand's military junta has brokered a deal to ensure World Cup games are broadcast for free as part of its "return to happiness" campaign.

The National Broadcasting and Telecoms Commission has struck a 427 million baht (£7 million) deal with RS Broadcasting, the exclusive rights holder, to broadcast the entire tournament on free-to-air channels.

After seizing power last month, the military junta has vowed to bring happiness to Thailand offering free concerts, food and even haircuts in a bid to win over public support.

Critics have branded the campaign a cheap gimmick used by the junta for political purposes after cracking down on pro-democracy dissidents, academics and threatening journalists.

On Thursday, Sombat Boonngamanong, who helped organise anti-coup protests using social media, was formally charged with inciting unrest, violating the country's computer crime act and defying an order by the junta. If found guilty, he could spend up to 14 years in prison.