The Committee for Free and Fair Elections on Monday accused state-run TVK’s “Equity News” of bias towards the ruling CPP and of broadcasting less favorable reports on other political parties.
Equity News is a joint project of the UN Development Program and TVK, which claims to offer proportionally equal coverage to all the political parties competing in the April 1 commune elections.
Equity News is broadcast 15 minutes each weekday evening during the official election campaign, which began March 16.
“Through an analysis of the content on [Equity News] programs, there is positive content for the CPP, such as reports that the CPP has had an orderly campaign, while other political parties were described plainly,” Comfrel said in a statement.
The program has devoted 38 percent of its coverage to the CPP, 21 percent to the SRP, 20 percent to Funcinpec, 11 percent to the Norodom Ranariddh Party and 10 percent in total to eight smaller parties.
The time was divided based on factors including how many seats a party won in the 2002 commune elections.
Comfrel monitoring chief Mar Sophal claimed the biased tone of news coverage originates from TVK’s producers.
“The equity is not good—the producers are biased to the ruling party,” he said.
“If the producers praise one party, they must give praise for all the political parties,” he added.
TVK Director Kem Gunawath denied the show was biased.
“Comfrel should question the UNDP’s monitors,” he added.
Daphne Skillen, media adviser for the UNDP, defended the program stating that it was not biased towards the CPP.
“Our program has always been impartial and balanced,” she said. “There is praise and criticism [of] all the parties.”
SRP leader Sam Rainsy called on the UNDP to reshuffle its experts working on the program to address the issue of impartiality.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh.)