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Government to launch TV show against fake news

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Ministry of Infomation spokesman Phos Sovann gives a speech last year. Mohachak Pormean News via Facebook

Government to launch TV show against fake news

The Ministry of Information is set to launch a live programme on the National Television of Kampuchea (TVK) channel in a bid to counter fake news.

In a meeting at the ministry on Monday, its minister, Khieu Kanharith, said fake news could “pollute the social atmosphere” and consequently lead to social chaos.

He ordered TVK to arrange a weekly programme to be broadcast live between one or two hours, during which guest speakers and officials from relevant institutions could verify facts to dispel fake news.

The directive came after Prime Minister Hun Sen called on media to tackle fake news in his address to some 5,000 government officials and journalists at an annual gathering in Phnom Penh on January 14.

“It is necessary to prevent fake news from misleading the general public. Fake news has increasingly spread on social media. Its provocative content is meant to cause social chaos."

“Most of the fake news is invented by the opposition in an attempt to distort the truth and defame the government,” he said.

At the meeting, the minister laid out an action plan for relevant authorities to implement in the fight against fake news.

Ministry of Information spokesman Phos Sovann told The Post on Wednesday that TVK has promised to air the programme early next month.

“The live show will include round-table discussions to verify facts. We have noticed that some people re-disseminate old news, such as news from 2010 that were critical of the authorities, to deceive the general public into believing they remain inactive and indifferent [to social issues],” he said.

Pen Bona, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), applauded the Ministry of Information’s directive. He said fake news is a serious issue in the Kingdom and beyond.

“As journalists, we applaud the Ministry of Information for airing a regular show to raise people’s awareness of fake news. We need to respond promptly when fake news crops up,” he said.

Bona expressed hope that the TVK’s live show will become a model for media in the Kingdom to follow.

“If possible we can launch an educational programme to make people aware of the issue. First, we need to make them understand the foundation of news so they can distinguish between fake and reliable news."

“Once they understand it, they will be able to tell whether or not the news is trustworthy and based on reliable sources, witnesses and facts, or whether the news is biased,” he said.

Huy Vannak, the president of the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC), also welcomed the Ministry of Information’s fight against fake news.

“I support a daily broadcast of the show because fake news also arises every day,” he said.

Vannak said the programme would involve experts in relevant fields including IT and information and communications technology in response to widespread dissemination of fake news on social media.

“It’s vital to enlighten the public, to enable them to distinguish between fake and reliable news,” he said, adding the TVK’s show will eventually lead to the demise of fake news.

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