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Mam Sonando, minister spar over b’cast ‘tax’

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith yesterday reiterated that it was near impossible for Beehive Radio director Mam Sonando to expand his station’s reach and obtain a TV licence because he owes “millions of riel” in supposed broadcasting tax.

The comments – similar to those Kanharith made over the weekend – came as the prominent radio director submitted a letter to City Hall yesterday outlining plans for daily protests outside the ministry.

“His strategy is to borrow more money.… His radio [operation] owes the ministry hundreds of millions of riel,” Kanarith said, adding that the money supposedly owed was tax for broadcasting.

Sonando, however, said no such law exists.

“How can I pay a broadcasting tax of 3 million riel per month if there is no law? I absolutely won’t,” he said. “[Kanharith] says I owe hundreds of millions of riel. If so, why does he not file a legal complaint?”

Over the weekend, Kanharith described Sonando’s efforts to move into TV and expand his radio station’s coverage as a ploy to “borrow more money” from the government, according to a Sunday post on the website of state-run news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP).

The same day, Sonando said he had been forced to postpone a demonstration because the authorities had said his request to rally had been “unlawful”.

City Hall has not yet responded to a subsequent request from Sonando to hold week-day rallies in his bid to grow his media company.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said officials planned to invite Sonando to talk about his demonstration plans.

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