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Beehive to lose sting?

Beehive Radio station owner Mam Sonando exits Phnom Penh’s Appeal Court in March
Beehive Radio station owner Mam Sonando exits Phnom Penh’s Appeal Court in March. HENG CHIVOAN

Beehive to lose sting?

THE signal of independent station Beehive Radio has been fuzzy since March, and now its director, Mam Sonando, fears it could die out altogether if the CPP wins the election as expected this month.

The outspoken radio boss alleged yesterday that the Ministry of Information (MoI) has been heaping pressure on NGOs, political parties and advertisers who pay for time on his station – and he fears their departure en masse could leave him bankrupt.

“I can say that my radio station will close if the CPP wins this election. I think that if the [MoI] continues to pressure my radio station like this, I will have to shut it down,” he said.

Sonando said those wanting airtime needed to submit an unreasonable amount of paperwork and get the permission of everyone from the MoI to commune and village chiefs.

“All NGOs and some political parties are bored and frustrated by the process of getting something on [Beehive],” he said.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith declined to comment yesterday.

Beehive is known for criticising the government and for unashamedly broaching topics state-aligned media won’t.

It has recently sold airtime to the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the League for Democracy Party, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, Sonando said.

He declined to elaborate on whether those groups would pull their programming.

“Recently, there was one NGO from the US that wanted airtime, but they got tired of the ministry’s policy,” he added.

CCHR president Ou Virak said he had not had any trouble broadcasting on the station, but “wouldn’t be surprised if they were pressuring Beehive”.

Sonando said he had big plans for July 7 – the third anniversary of his Association of Democrats.

“I will quiz my association members during that time about which party they will support,” he said.

Sonando was imprisoned last year, originally accused of inciting an insurrection – an allegation widely condemned as politically motivated – before he was released in March.

The Post has since reported of listeners complaining that the Beehive signal has been weak since Sonando was freed.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies and Journalism, said that if Beehive Radio closed because of pressure from the MoI, it would be a violation of press freedom and the constitution.

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