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Sokha probes IBC's NGO self-censorship

Sokha probes IBC's NGO self-censorship

T HE Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the National Assembly Kem Sokha is investigating allegations that IBC television's decision to stop covering NGOs' controversial news was illegally caused by government threats.

Sokha said if the allegations were proved true he intended to protest to the Co-Premiers because such threats designed to stop the broadcasting of material critical of the government were illegal.

In August the Post reported that IBC had been summoned several times to the Ministry of Information and warned not to broadcast controversial material, especially concerning politics.

On Sept 19 the Thai-owned and privately run IBC said it could not accept the invitations by NGOs to cover seminars with objectives contrary to the Royal Government.

The announcement added that IBC (International Broadcasting Corporation) would like to postpone broadcasting communiqués by NGOs which are critical of the government.

Sokha said: "I am interested in this matter. I would like to know from whom IBC is suffering. I am doing the investigation about it now to find out whether it was IBC's real intention to make the decision or if the decision was caused by a source that threatened IBC."

Sokha added that he had filmed an interview with IBC during a Human Rights seminar [before Sept 19] which was not broadcast.

IBC 's Chief of News and Editor Prum Kim, in an interview with the Post on Sep 27, said: "I found that some reports and statements by some NGOs or associations broadcast on TV were hard and critical of the government.

"Therefore I have decided to stop broadcasting such material to avoid problems [warnings from the Information Ministry] because numerous problems have already happened to me.

"In the name of the company I have to protect IBC's interest. This decision was made by myself, not threatened or warned by anyone. I did this for the company's safety and interest."

He said the latest problem was caused on Sept 8 when IBC broadcasted a Khmer Journalist's Association (KJA) statement which assumed political parties may have been behind the murder of the Voice of Youth's editor Non Chan. The statement also said if the murderer was not found the government had to be held responsible.

The Information Ministry's Director of Cabinet Sieng Lapresse said he knew nothing about the IBC decision, he said the ministry had not barred IBC from covering NGO seminars and in fact encouraged IBC to cover NGO activities.

Lapresse said the Ministry just suggested to IBC to broadcast in line with the Constitution and not threaten national security, and if IBC believed in 'self-censorship' it was their right.

A spokesman for Adhoc Steven Pack said the IBC ban had been instituted in a discriminating way because while the station no longer aired reports on his NGO it did carry news from Kid and Licadho.

But Kim clarified the IBC ban. He said IBC still wanted to cooperate and work with NGOs, cover their stories, and not isolate them.

Kim added that IBC would continue to broadcast their news so long as it did not contain material that affected the government.

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