Television reporters covering a traffic accident in Daun Penh district last week became a spectacle themselves when an argument over camera angles allegedly turned into a beatdown, prompting one badly injured reporter to file a court complaint on Tuesday.
Kry Sambath, a reporter with SEATV who allegedly suffered a broken arm and injuries to his face and eyes, filed a complaint against a group of five CNC staffers who he claimed beat him after a spat over an interview, said Ran Moy Makara, chief of staff at SEATV.
“This is an individual’s complaint, even though he works for SEATV,” he said.
Sambath said he was unable to comment yesterday as he was still suffering the after-effects of the alleged beating, and referred questions to Makara.
According to Makara, Sambath was covering the car accident as some nearby CNC staffers were interviewing witnesses. When Sambath put his camera behind the CNC staffers in order to capture the same interview, the rival reporters became incensed and told him to move, saying their management did not allow them to use the same shots as other networks.
“After a heated argument, my staff member [didn’t respond] at all, because he was alone, and then he rushed off to publish the news,” Makara said. “When he got on his motorbike, CNC staffers pulled him from the motorbike and asked him to fight one-on-one … [but] then they ganged up [on him] in a fight.”
Though the complaint was against five people, he added, Sambath had only been able to identify two alleged assailants: Sovan Sethey and Sovann Rithy.
CNC general director Muon Ramady played down the matter yesterday as a youthful outburst between acquaintances, saying the dispute would be solved by the two stations.
But Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, said yesterday that reporters occupied a similar place in Cambodian society as teachers and other role models, and that last week’s shenanigans were unbefitting their line of work.