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A polling-booth attendant looks for voters' names at a polling station in Prey Veng province during the nationwide commune elections in 2012. Derek Stout

Commune hopefuls to get their 15 minutes

The National Election Committee on Saturday announced new guidelines for the June commune elections, granting all 12 registered parties equal airtime on government-run broadcaster TVK.

The guidelines also allow for parties to purchase additional spots on privately owned TV and radio stations, though one observer was quick to point out the unlikelihood of such sales, given the pro-government leanings of most station ownership.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea yesterday said parties will each receive 15 minutes of airtime to lay out their policies on the national broadcaster in spots to air May 20 through June 2.

But while the new rules allow for the purchase of airtime on private stations, it does not obligate stations to make the sale.

“If a political party has money, it can rent time on radio and television,” he said. “But the NEC will not interfere when a private station does not agree to rent time to a political party, because that is a private [matter].”

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, said that while the rules which also guarantee NGOs the right to present the NEC with concerns about parties were good, he was doubtful about their implementation.

He also has observed that most radio and TV stations will not rent time to other parties besides the ruling party.

“Most of the television and radio [stations] . . . seem to favour and have a tendency toward the ruling party, and . . . they do not dare broadcast other political parties’ policies,” he said.

The guidelines were released following a meeting with the National Democratic Institute.

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