Hoping to spread its message to Cambodian voters before the upcoming communal elections, Funcinpec again is planning to enter the FM radio market.
Funcinpec members said Wednesday the party is working to start a new station at 90.5 FM. The party has had no radio presence since its 90 FM station was shut down by the CPP during the July 1997 factional fighting.
Minister of Information Lu Laysreng said his ministry gave Funcinpec the new radio frequency nearly one year ago.
Serey Kosal, a close aide to Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said the prince has spent about $70,000 for equipment, but still needs more than $30,000 for the cost of land for the new station building and antenna installation.
The party must also pay $30,000 to the current private owner of FM 90 for equipment repairs he made to the station when it reopened several months after the factional fighting.
Serey Kosal said the party would use the station to broadcast its political messages and general policy plans to party members, and also educate people about human rights and democracy.
FM 90 had been run by Funcinpec from 1992 until July 1997, when government forces stormed its offices during the factional fighting that ousted Prince Ranariddh as co-premier. The party had no access to broadcast networks before, during or after the 1998 national election.
Funcinpec officials said regaining control of a radio station was a key request during the party’s negotiations to form a coalition with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party after the 1998 elections.
Under the coalition deal with the CPP, Funcinpec was also supposed to control the TV9 channel, which was also owned by Funcinpec before the 1997 fighting.
But Funcinpec directors have never had full control of the station. Hun Sen himself owns shares in TV9.
Efforts by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party to start its own radio station have been rejected. Ministry of Information officials have said the FM radio frequencies are simply full.
Denying the opposition a station, they maintained, is not politically motivated.
Son Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, wonders why Funcinpec can get a license when his party can’t. “It’s not democratic that only the parties in a coalition government can get access to broadcast networks, and the opposition is denied,” he said.