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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CTN leads broadcasters but press remains open

CTN leads broadcasters but press remains open

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A newspaper and magazine vendor adjusts her display Tuesday in Phnom Penh. A new survey by Indochina Research showed that 30 percent of Cambodians read a newspaper at least once a week.

Survey shows that newspapers are struggling to get readers

CTN rules the airwaves and, together with two Khmer-language newspapers, dominates Cambodia’s media landscape, but a heavily fragmented radio sector means advertisers don’t have it all their own way in reaching potential customers, new research shows.

A survey by Indochina Research in November of 1,100 people living within 25 kilometres of five main urban centres shows that the most popular radio network, 100.5 FM, is the preferred station of just 26 percent of radio listeners. However, listenership is split among a number of regional broadcasts, making it difficult for advertisers to reach a broad section of consumers, said Laurent Notin, Indochina Research’s general manager.

“It makes it very complex for advertisers,” he said. “They need to realise there are different advertising channels targeting different audiences. To maximise the efficiency of their advertising, they need to choose the most appropriate channel for their brand strategy.”

The situation is much more clear-cut on television, where 63 percent of respondents say they most commonly watch CTN, while Koh Santepheap (59 percent) and Rasmey Kampuchea (36 percent) are the preferred newspapers for 95 percent of respondents.

The survey was conducted around urban areas in Phnom Penh and Battambang, Kampong Cham, Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap provinces.

Notin said television was not only a more straightforward advertising medium but also the most popular medium among Cambodians for news and entertainment. Nearly 100 percent of those surveyed said they watched television on a daily basis, 70 percent of whom take in more than two hours per day, compared with just 46 percent who listen to radio every day and only 30 percent who read newspapers at least once a week.

On television, Khemarak Phomin TV (TV5) and cable channels are a distant third behind dominant CTN, with 11 percent and 9 percent of respondents, respectively, saying they are their preferred choice.

Notin said results were broadly in line with the market researcher’s first media index in June, but new youth-focused network MyTV was beginning to boost its brand among the key 15-24 demographic. Around 7 percent of those surveyed said they most often watched MyTV among competing networks, up from just 5 percent in June. Among youth aged 15-19, 20 percent prefer the network, compared with just 12 percent in the first index. It is also the most preferred network among 10 percent of those aged 20-24.

“MyTV is doing its job in targeting those 15-24s, because that is definitely their target,” Notin said of the CTN-owned station.

While Koh Santepheap and Rasmey Kampuchea have a clearcut leadership in press, Notin said the absence of a reading culture in Cambodia meant there was huge untapped potential in the sector.

Overall, 47 percent of the population said they read newspapers, but only 30 percent at least once a week.

“It’s not a lot, it’s only one-third of the population,” Notin said. “You cannot have more people watching TV, but you can have more people reading newspapers and magazines and listening to the radio.”

Newspaper publishers needed to better understand reader preferences and improve distribution channels to help foster a reading culture in the country if they wanted to better tap the resource, Notin said.

“There are plenty of opportunities here to make more money. A newspaper is a product like any other product. Price, promotion and placement is essential, and placement is a lot about distribution. But at the same time, you have to promote reading.”

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