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Opposition TV ‘will be truly independent’

The opposition party will aim to deliver Cambodians television programming similar to that seen on CNN and the BBC, a spokesman said yesterday.

As part of a political deal finalised on Friday, the government granted the Cambodia National Rescue Party an analogue television licence, enabling it to compete against the country’s traditionally government-aligned and -owned stations.

CNRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday gave no indication as to when the station would begin broadcasting or whether presenters were already being groomed.

But, he said, the CNRP already has a firm idea of what direction it wants the station’s programming to take.

“We have to learn from international TV stations such as CNN, the BBC and Channel News Asia,” he said. “It has to respect a code of ethics and show professional programs. I assure you, it will be truly independent.”

Because the opposition was so resolute about this, it would effectively forfeit any further influence it has over programming, Sovann said. This would leave content in the hands of an independent team of programmers – and leave the opposition party, in theory, subjected to as much scrutiny as the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“We want public debate,” Sovann said.

Scheduling would consist mainly of Cambodian programs that focus on human rights, democracy, education and health, Sovann said. Entertainment would also have a place, he added.

The Ministry of Information said on Friday it had seized back an analogue channel for the opposition to use. A company linked to the CNRP, Cambodian Independent Media, will be granted the opposition’s licence as well as a radio tower in the capital and relay stations in the provinces.

But the opposition is still appealing to financial backers.

“We want private investors. But it does not mean they are loyal to the party,” he said.

Asked whether the opposition would accept investment from tycoons connected to the CPP, Sovann said the party would “look at [their] companies’ style”. In any case, “investors can buy shares but not make [news] decisions”, he said.

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