CPP, TV Association Dismiss CNRP Claims of Media Bias

The CPP and the Cambodian TV Association on Tuesday rejected claims from the opposition CNRP that the media had favored the ruling party with disproportionate television airtime during campaigning for the June 4 commune elections.

The CPP accused the CNRP of “twisting the truth without responsibility, which created serious confusion among national and international opinion,” the party said in a statement.

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Prime Minister Hun Sen joins commune election campaign rally in Phnom Penh earlier this month. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

TV stations did not broadcast the CNRP because the party did not purchase airtime, the statement said.

The CPP “wishes to clarify that all private media have correctly implemented the law and principles of the NEC’s code of ethics,” it said, referring to the National Election Committee.

In a statement issued on Monday, the opposition party said the June 4 commune elections “have not completely fulfilled the principle of free, fair and just elections,” and that most media favored the CPP and had “not been independent,” including during the last day of the election campaign period on June 2.

“All private TV stations had aired the CPP election campaign live, but did not broadcast other political parties’ campaigns,” the CNRP statement said, adding that the NEC had not taken action against the stations.

On the last day of campaigning, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the CPP had paid $300 per minute for nine TV channels to broadcast the ruling party’s election rally live.

“So I hope that other political parties, if they want to rent airtime, please go hire [it] at the same price,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

The majority of the nation’s most popular TV channels belong to owners who are politically affiliated with the CPP, as either government employees or advisers, according to Media Ownership Monitor KH.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said last month that parties were entitled to broadcast two seven-and-a-half-minute advertisements daily on state-run TV and radio stations, but ads on private TV stations had to be purchased.

The NEC had sent a letter to private stations urging them to publicize their advertising broadcast slots, but said it had no authority to force private businesses to act, Mr. Puthea said at the time.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann could not be reached on Tuesday, but said last month that the party was ready to buy airtime but was waiting for stations to make their available slots public. He said at the time that the party had not approached stations, but “nobody sells to us.”

The Cambodian TV Association said in a statement on Tuesday that “private TV stations do not belong to any political parties,” and described the CNRP’s claim as “political twisting, without responsibility.”

The CNRP did not buy airtime on any local TV stations, the association said.

“Private TV stations have the full right and independence to sell airtime to political parties, which have the ability to buy,” it said.

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