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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy blacked out by IBC

Rainsy blacked out by IBC

T HE television documentary "Public Opinion" featuring former Finance Minister Sam Rainsy was canceled because, according to the show's producers, of government censorship and IBC-TV's fears that it could lose a lucrative contract.

Rainsy was to talk about the economic and financial situation in Cambodia, and the show was to screen on Nov 11 on the Thai-owned IBC-TV. The show, recorded on Nov 5, was pulled.

However, the government denied accusations of censorship.

Documentary makers the Khmer Institute of Democracy [KID] met with Information Minister Ieng Mouly, who assured them that his ministry had not instructed IBC-TV to censor the program, according to KID executive director Julio Jeldres.

It was up to IBC-TV to show the program or not, Jeldres quoted Mouly as having said.

Jeldres said that IBC-TV had to follow the instructions given to them by Cambodian government authorities on the matter and, in particular, by TV Kampuchea.

Jeldres said that KID had complained to Thailand's newly-installed Foreign Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - as the person in charge of IBC-TV - about such "self-censorship."

They have yet to hear back.

"There is political pressure involved, the Government did not want to give a Member of Parliament [Rainsy] exposure on television to the people," Jeldres said.

"And IBC-TV do not want to lose a lucrative television contract... they are very scared they could lose out unless they follow government pressure."

IBC-TV Chief of News and Editor Prum Kim said that Rainsy could not talk about the economy as he had been fired from his job as finance minister.

"If he [Rainsy] wanted to talk about the National Assembly that would be fine, because he is still a member of the assembly," Prum Kim said.

Jeldres also said that IBC-TV staff stated in their meeting that they had edited a recent message from King Norodom Sihanouk because they felt it might upset "certain government leaders."

Other KID programs had been edited without KID knowledge, he said. Rainsy gave an overview of the progress made by Cambodia in those [financial] fields which were important for the country's rehabilitation, KID said.

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