The Ministry of Interior is planning to launch a $30 million radio and television station with backing from a Chinese company, with testing set to start right around the time the opposition party’s new station is slated to begin broadcasting.
Speaking after a signing ceremony, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said that Interior TV and its radio counterpart will serve the public interest.
“The location of the radio and TV will perhaps be on the outskirts of the city, while spending will be approximately $30 million,” he said.
“This radio and TV station will be no different from the others, but was created to serve the interests of society.”
The venture was established between the ministry and the China Fujian Zhongya Culture Media company.
Representatives from both the Chinese and Cambodian sides of the project declined to say how much money the Chinese firm was providing.
Testing for the project is set for early 2016, with official broadcasts scheduled to start in the middle of that year, said Mao Bunnarin, the director general of logistics and finance at the ministry.
According to Bunnarin, the Ministry of Interior at one time produced a television show called National Security, which focused on showcasing the ministry’s commitment to public order, but the show became crowded out by other programs and the ministry now needed its own station to “catch up with the events”.
Interior TV and radio will broadcast information on a wide range of topics, from education, to law, to economics, but with a particular focus on “territorial protection, public order, political stability, and social security”, Bunnarin said.
Not all are convinced of the station’s necessity, however.
Yem Ponhearith, spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said a ministry owning and running its own broadcasting outlet was unwarranted.
“State television already exists, so why is it necessary for the ministry to own its own radio and television station?” he said.
“We just do not agree with this, and we do not clearly know about the programming or when planning for this began. We have just learned of this and are very surprised.”
As part of concessions gained under the political deal that ended the opposition party’s boycott of parliament last year, the CNRP was granted the right to operate its own station.
Ponhearith said the project, called Sun TV, will cost $3 million to $4 million and is supposed to launch in early 2016. Ponhearith said about $400,000 of that sum had been collected.
The Interior Ministry’s project is the latest addition to a media scene where almost all television and radio stations are controlled by those affiliated with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, according to the Cambodian Center for Independent Media.
Two weeks ago, another high-rolling media project, PNN, was launched by CPP senator and business tycoon Ly Yong Phat for more than $20 million.