The Royal Academy, a government-funded research institute that focuses primarily on Cambodian culture, history and languages, has sharply criticized the country’s TV and radio stations, claiming their programs could lead to the erosion of Cambodian culture and morality.
Speaking at a Sept 27 workshop involving dozens of mass media representatives, Ros Chantrabot, vice president of the academy, said that most TV and radio programs do nothing to improve those who tune in.
“Radio spends too much time on nonsense talk will little moral instruction,” he said.
Ros Chantrabot added that he was concerned that broadcast content from China or other foreign countries could chip away at the people’s knowledge of Cambodian culture. He pointed to rules in France that have quotas for French content on TV and radio as a good model to follow.
Academy President Sorn Samnang said that the broadcasters should take a more “culturalist” approach to programming that promoted “national identity, education, healthcare and social morality.”
Speaking at the workshop, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith stressed first and foremost that the media was “free enough,” but did address the issue of broadcast morality.
Using TV and radio to instruct the public could be a “double-edged sword,” Khieu Kanharith said, as it could be a tool for manipulating the public into committing unspeakable acts—pointing to the example of a Rwandan radio station’s role in promoting the 1994 genocide there.
He added that his ministry has been working to prevent Cambodia turning into a “battle zone for foreign broadcasters” by denying local licenses to foreign stations .
Pa Nguon Teang, director of Voice of Democracy radio, said that biggest issue facing Cambodian broadcasting was not a lack of cultural or moral programming but political interference.
“Most of the TV stations don’t serve democracy; most of them serve the CPP,” he said.