Tycoon and ruling Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat launched a new TV station – PNN – this weekend, which promises to be independent and “different” from other television channels in the Kingdom.
PNN will run 12 local entertainment productions along with morning, midday, and primetime news, according to its managing director Glen Felgate, with plans to go into radio as well.
A brochure from the Ly Yong Phat group said the firm had invested “over $20 million” in PNN’s studios.
Even though the network’s owner has extensive business interests ranging from resorts to land and agribusiness, Felgate said it would remain independent.
“The impression that I’m getting [from the board] is there is an intention to be different, and by being different PNN is going to cover both sides of the news, many sides,” he said.
Controversy concerning Ly Yong Phat’s business interests has made headlines before, such as the alleged use of child labour in his Phnom Penh Sugar Company, but Felgate said PNN would remain independent on these issues as well.
“I think we would report in a fair manner, giving the full story and picture.”
Pa Nguon Teang, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, expressed his doubts about PNN’s independence given Ly Yong Phat’s political and business ties, saying that the government should continue diversifying the media landscape by licensing other broadcast channels.
The Ministry of Information issued a TV licence to the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party a year ago, but the CNRP still needs $3 million before launching its channel.
Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, said that the CNRP’s bid to compete with other well-connected stations might prove difficult.
“My concern is that because the CNRP station will be affiliated with the opposition party, they may not be able to attract large businesses to advertise because most if not all the big businesses align with the ruling party.”