Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC and the media: The spoils are divided

NEC and the media: The spoils are divided

NEC and the media: The spoils are divided

Equitable access for political parties in media programming will begin on June 21. Under the initiative, agreed between the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Information, state-owned media will give different percentages of time to those vying for votes in the upcoming election.

Opposition parties and observers said the plan was a giant improvement. In the 1998 general election and 2002 commune election, only the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Fun-cinpec gained news coverage.

"Media access in the last election was atrocious," said Ian Porter, the manager of IMPACS, an NGO that helps to train staff under the initiative. "There's no excuse for that kind of exclusion of all but two parties from the coverage. The [new] formula has to be considered an advance."

The NEC has allotted 44 percent of airtime during the daily election news bulletins to the CPP, and 27 percent to its coalition partner Funcinpec. The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), which received no coverage in the last election, has 19 percent of broadcast time. The remaining 10 percent goes to the small parties' campaigns.

Broadcasting will begin as ten minute pre-electoral segments on TVK, said UNDP media advisor Daphne Skillen.

On campaigning day, June 26, and for the month-long campaign period, news coverage will expand to 15 minutes a day. State-owned National Radio of Kampuchea and FM96 will also broadcast bulletins during the campaign period.

Skillen said the project could set an enormous precedent and revitalize the idea of news.

"It's a step-by-step kind of thing. It's not going to be the BBC, but these changes could mean a breakthrough in the way broadcasting is done," she said.

Ung Bun Ang, who heads the SRP's public relations, said his party appreciated the international community's efforts, because increased access means "the whole election process, compared to the previous one, at least on paper, looks good". But he asserted the 'equitable access' formula was undermined by the CPP's control of the media.

However, smaller parties that have only a fraction of airtime compared to the big three feel slighted. The president of the Cambodian Women's Party, Nuon Bunna, said her political freedom had been denied under the equitable access initiative.

"My party cannot accept the media access divided at just 10 percent between small political parties because it is not democratic," she said. "Bigger parties always abuse the political freedom of smaller parties."

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia plans to monitor ten TV stations and eleven radio stations during the campaign. The NGO's executive director, Koul Panha, said he approved of the equitable access plan, but felt the 15-minute news segments would not provide enough time: "Some new parties have emerged and they really want to become involved."

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four