Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Roadblocks for free media



Roadblocks for free media

Roadblocks for free media

2 chhim phal virun
Chhim Phal Virun speaks during a pro-CPP political and social analysis program on Bayon News TV yesterday. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia's political environment, a lack of professional journalists and financial instability are the key issues hampering independent media development in the Kingdom, a new report says.

The report, Challenges for Independent Media Development in Cambodia, was released late last month by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), which produces Voice of Democracy radio.

With the government controlling most of the country’s media through direct or indirect ownership, censorship or “influence by way of manipulation of the law”, truly independent reporting is hard to find, the study notes.

“For example, the widespread practice of self-censorship among Cambodian media professionals [is] borne out of a fear of being prosecuted for criminal offences under the country’s penal code for reporting on issues which highlight controversial activities by the government,” it says.

Television and radio are by far the most influential media in Cambodia, with only two per cent of Cambodians regularly reading newspapers.

But, according to the report, of 160 registered radio stations, only two could be considered fully independent: CCIM’s Sarika FM (which broadcasts VOD) and Radio Beehive.

The latter’s outspoken owner, Mam Sonando, was arrested last year for stoking a so-called secessionist movement in Kratie province and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in a case that was widely labelled as politically motivated.

The charges were lessened and he was freed last month after strong local and international condemnation, but he remains under parole for the next four-plus years.

With all 11 television stations associated with the government, meanwhile, and with pre-broadcast vetting of news bulletins, diversity in content and equal access to media for all political parties are also significant concerns.

A report published by election monitor Comfrel during the 2012 commune elections found the ruling CPP received more broadcasting time across all TV stations than any other party.

According to Freedom House’s 2013 Freedom of the Press Index, Cambodia’s media is considered as “Not Free”.

The Ministry of Information did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.

  • Preah Sihanouk hit with travel ban

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has announced a temporary travel ban to and from the province, except for ambulances and trucks transporting goods. The announcement came after prime minister Hun Sen called on people in the province to travel only if necessary, and that people not