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Voice of America planning to discuss buying air-time

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Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith (centre right) permitted Voice of America (VOA) to buy airtime from Beehive Radio FM 105 and Radio FM 102. This came after a meeting between him and US Ambassador Patrick Murphy (centre left). AGENCE KAMPUCHEA PRESSE

Voice of America planning to discuss buying air-time

Voice of America (VOA) has contacted Beehive Radio FM 105 and Radio FM 102 to discuss buying air-time to broadcast again, they said. VOA had recently received approval from the Minister of Information to go on air.

Mam Sonando, the director of Beehive Radio, told The Post on Sunday that a VOA representative had made an appointment to discuss buying air-time.

“VOA contacted me, and as long as they now meet me and buy air-time, I can contact [Minister of Information] Khieu Kanharith.

“The appointment has been made for between December 10 and 15. I can then prepare the documents to request the Ministry of Information,” Sonando said.

Sun Daneth, the director of Radio 102, said a VOA representative planned to meet her to discuss buying air-time. She said Radio 102 had previously broadcast VOA for one-and-a-half-hours a day.

“VOA wants to choose any time, so we will have to meet for discussions first,” Daneth said.

Bridget Ann Serchak, the director of public relations at VOA, did not respond to a request for comment from The Post on Sunday.

Kanharith permitted VOA to buy air-time from the two radio stations. This came after a meeting between him and US Ambassador Patrick Murphy.

Murphy said it was part of efforts by the US and Cambodia to cooperate in the media sector.

Ministry of Information spokesman Meas Sophorn said the ministry had allowed VOA to broadcast again with Beehive Radio and Radio FM 102 as it had fulfilled its legal requirements, such as registering its representative office in Phnom Penh.

The ministry recognised it in June.

Sophorn said VOA must still fulfil further obligations under the relevant laws and regulations, and apply to the Ministry of Information for permission to buy air-time from local radio stations.

He said the ministry did not allow Radio Free Asia to broadcast because it had in the past used improper language in reference to the government, such as “Phnom Penh regime”.

However, he said it would reconsider its position if Radio Free Asia were to act in a fully legal manner like VOA.

“The ministry will review the attitude of the broadcaster regarding the legal requirements Radio Free Asia has to fulfil,” Sophorn said.

Moeun Chhean Narith, a lecturer in media, said some media outlets had in the past been closed in due to the political situation.

“If the media is allowed to enjoy full broadcasting rights, with voices from all communities and countries, it will be a positive development and a sign of the re-growth of democracy in Cambodia,” Chhean Narith said.

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