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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Internet to be regulated: minister

Internet to be regulated: minister

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

The Ministry of Information is drafting legislation that allows

existing print regulations to govern other media, including the

internet, but vows not to curtail press freedom.

Photo by:
Heng Chivoan

Pheang Oudom, 18, works at the Olympic Net shop in Phnom Penh.

THE Ministry of Information is drafting a law that would extend existing libel, defamation and ethics rules currently governing print media to other media platforms, including the internet.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the law would be used to formalise content management rules so that they could be easily applied by future information ministers. He said the law would not be used to curtail freedom of the press.  

"We are drafting the legislation in order to have a proper law to manage radio, television and other platforms," he said in an interview with the Post Monday.  

Khieu Kanharith said the recent explosion of media outlets outside of print made the law necessary, pointing to the increase in websites in recent years, as well as the growth in television and radio.

He said Cambodia has nine aerial television channels, 60 cable channels and several satellite and internet channels. The number of radio stations - including internet stations - is also growing rapidly.

He said he did not know when the draft law would be finished, noting that much work remains to be done before it can be sent to the Council of Ministers.  

Control of the internet recently became an issue when several government officials suggested shutting down a website by Cambodian-American artist Reahu, whose depictions of semi-nude Apsaras they said were degrading to Cambodian culture.

Regulating radio

Mom Sonando, director of Sambok Khmum Radio (Beehive Radio), a private commercial radio station, said he supported the drafting of the law.  

"I support the creation of a proper law to manage the media so that we will all know what we should do and what we should not do," he said.

He said he hoped the law would stipulate that all radio stations are entitled to the same broadcasting rights, which he said is not the case now.

For instance, he said his station does not have live broadcasting rights for Radio Free Asia and Voice of America programming, putting it at a disadvantage compared to stations that do.

Pen Samitthy, editor-in-chief of Rasmey Kampuchea and president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said however, that such laws generally lead to limitations on the press.

He said he would prefer that any law related to the media address only infrastructure issues and management techniques, such as frequency regulation.

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