Thai Prime Minister and former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin Shinatwatra has launched a 24-hour bilingual television news channel to cover next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok.

Prime Minister Thaksin says the APEC channel will provide 24-hour news coverage from Tuesday, October 14, until after the summit on October 22, when it will be taken off the air.

Twenty-one heads of state are expected to attend next week's Asia-Pacific economic meeting in Bangkok, including U.S. President George W. Bush and the leaders of Russia, China and Japan.

The Thai prime minister says launching the APEC news channel - broadcasting in Thai and English - shows how important the economic meeting is to Thailand.

"The channel today is yet another testimony of the great importance that the Thai government attaches to our hosting of APEC 2003," he said.

Mr. Thaksin says because 20,000 foreign and local media are expected to cover the economic summit, the APEC channel can be used as an important information tool.

"Therefore, as hosts, we consider it our main task to ensure that both the media and the public have full access to all the news and information related to APEC 2003," said Thai prime minister.

Mr. Thaksin, former telecommunications tycoon-turned prime minister, has made many elaborate preparations for APEC, including one of the heaviest security blankets ever over Bangkok and its international airport. He has also cleaned up the city's streets by detaining hundreds of homeless people, beggars, and prostitutes.

The Thai prime minister says he aims to show Thailand in its best light and much of that will now be on television.