The National Election Committee released Saturday a draft set of rules aimed at ensuring that political parties running in the July elections have equal access to the media, an NEC official said Monday.
According to the draft, all parties will be granted equal air time and will be charged the same price to run promotional advertisements with private print and broadcast media organizations, NEC Deputy Secretary-General Tuot Lux said Monday.
“But if some political parties don’t have the funds to rent the private media, that is their problem,” Tuot Lux said.
This is the first election in which parties can run promotional spots through private media. In 1998, political platforms were aired on TVK only.
Two weeks before the election campaign begins June 26, the NEC will hold a meeting for private media owners to submit proposed prices and times for election commercials, he said. The NEC then will assign equal air time to each of the 25 parties registered to run in the elections. Parties will relinquish their chance to broadcast promotional spots if they do not accept the proposed times by the start of the season, Tuot Lux said.
The draft also proposes that air time not purchased by some parties may be sold to others, a rule currently facing opposition from select groups.
Khmer Front Party Deputy President Sun Sokunmealea on Monday proposed a change to the draft rules, saying that unused air time should be disregarded rather than sold to wealthy political parties.
“If the NEC allows political parties to rent the time that another political party has abandoned, the ruling political parties with a lot of money will have the chance to conduct campaigning more than the other parties,” she said.
She added that the NEC should define a uniform price for the private media to charge political parties.
“Most of the private media stations belong to the CPP. Those station owners will increase the price in order to block the democratic parties from challenging [the CPP] in the election,” she said.
Tuot Lux rejected the Khmer Front Party’s proposed changes.
“In the free economic market, the NEC can’t define prices for the private media stations. The private media owners will define the prices by themselves,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party Senator Ou Bunlong asked the NEC to provide political parties carrying several candidates more opportunities to campaign with the media.
He added that the NEC should permit political parties to purchase time from private stations in the provinces.
The draft will be approved by the NEC once all political parties submit their recommendations for the rules, Tuot Lux said.