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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Equitable access TV a winner

Equitable access TV a winner

One of the biggest changes to local media this election was the emergence of the

equitable access television. It applied to state broadcaster TVK's half-hour news

bulletin each evening from June 21 to July 25.

TVK news teams covered campaigning by all political parties, recording the leaders'

speeches, and interviewing attendees for the slots. A pre-arranged formula divided

most of the time between the big three: the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), Funcinpec

and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). However the small parties also got a look

in, with around 10 percent of the total coverage given to them.

The show was initiated and sponsored by the Australian government, and was hailed

by many as a step forward for democracy. Although it is no longer on air, many people

are keen that the show goes on.

"This is a first in Cambodia's history. I would like the program to continue

until the new government is formed, and then to continue forever. This guarantees

balanced information. That also helps to reduce political tensions since politicians

the don't use the media to curse each other, and are prepared to make dignified speeches."-Khieu

Kanharith, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Information and senior CPP member.

"I support the program and would like it to continue since it is a catalyst

of democracy, even though there was some unfairness towards us when the programs

were broadcast. The program was good, but the technical side was not."-Eng Chhay

Eang, SRP secretary-general.

"I don't have any comment about whether this program should be continued or

not since it is not the party's business. We cannot evaluate anything."-Kassie

Neou, Funcinpec spokesman.

"I think it should be continued, even though it was biased against small parties.

It's a chance for the media to learn to be professional to show different opinions

on an issue. I saw a lot of my friends, relatives and neighbors were very interested

and surprised by the program, and they watched it every day."-Koul Panha, executive

director of election monitoring NGO Comfrel.

"I noted that most people supported the program. It's a political program that

ensures democracy in Cambodia. It's the greatest success ever in Cambodia, and it

helps people to better understand politics. And I do think TVK should continue it."-Som

Chaya, news editor of CTN.

"It's a good program, although I wouldn't say it was 100 percent accurate and

neutral. But it's an improvement in media coverage since it provides a chance for

people to see into all the parties' performances. It's another step toward democracy.

I don't know whether it will continue or not, but if they do then the program should

have a clear purpose behind it."-Poan Phoung Bopha, co-director of the Women's

Media Center.

"It's a good program, because now I can see all the parties and many different

opinions. I like it-it's new, and previously we didn't have this kind of show. I

would be very happy if it continued because I don't just want to see one party on

my TV screen."-Nim Savuth, 33, a moto-taxi driver.

"I think it's a good program. I watched every show for more than one month.

It was a way of exchanging opinions over a problem. It reflects the truth and I want

other TV stations to do this too. I hope they will not just continue the program,

but also make it longer."-Van Boran, 44, construction worker.

"I don't care if this program survives. I am only worried about my business.

However, if they had it on air now, I would still like to watch it. But I don't really

care about politics-those people just know how to attack each other; they don't really

care about the nation."-Nith, 36, grocery seller.

"It's TVK's best ever show, but now it has stopped. We will continue it if the

management would like to do so."-Him Sourng, deputy director general of TVK.



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