Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Media report detects bias at Kingdom's TV stations

Media report detects bias at Kingdom's TV stations

Media report detects bias at Kingdom's TV stations

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090511_03.jpg

Report from election watchdog Comfrel surveys public and private stations but focuses on the state-run TVK.

Photo by:
SOVANN PHILONG

Coverage of Hun Sen accounts for 20 percent of TVK's political coverage, a news report said.

TELEVISION stations tended to portray the Cambodian People's Party favourably and criticise its rivals during the period following last year's National Assembly elections, according to a report on electronic broadcasting released last week, which focuses in particular on the state-run station National Television Kampuchea (TVK).

The report, produced by the election watchdog Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel), surveyED news reports on public

and private television and radio stations between October 2008 and March 2009.

Comfrel produces media monitoring reports every six months. Sok Pitour, acting coordinator of Comfrel's monitoring unit, told the Post on Sunday that its previous report surveyed all media outlets and suggested that political coverage was somewhat balanced, whereas the most recent report focuses on TVK and suggests that coverage is decidedly biased.

One reason for the difference, notes a Comfrel press release dated Thursday, is the fact that state-run channels adhered to the National Election Committee's media guidelines during last year's campaign, meaning they took their pro-CPP and anti-opposition programming off the air.

"However, after the election period, the state-run media, and TVK in particular, did not respect the principle of non-bias," the press release states.

Sok Pitour told the Post that Comfrel would continue to monitor TVK's programming in an attempt to encourage more balanced programming at the station.

 The report reveals that TVK devoted 68 percent of all political broadcasts in the six-month period to coverage of the government and did not once portray it negatively. Prime Minister Hun Sen was the focus of 20 percent of political broadcasts.

TVK Director-General Kim Kunawath could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The report singles out the Cambodian Television Network (CTN), a private network, as one of the channels that most consistently broadcasts "information of benefit to the CPP" while "criticising other political parties".

Som Chhaya, CTN's news director, said the Comfrel report was "not true".

Of the opposition parties, he said, "They don't have more news or actions for us to broadcast, so how can we talk about them?"

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said he was "not surprised" by the report's findings, adding that the present media situation "clearly displays that Cambodia is not a democratic nation".

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