Funcinpec Sued For Cancelling Radio Show

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights filed a complaint in Phnom Penh Municipal Court against FM 90 radio station on Tuesday, demanding $35,000 in compensation for what  it claims was an unfair cancellation of its “Voice of Democracy” program.

The Funcinpec-controlled station yanked the radio program Friday, with only a cursory telephone call and letter sent to CCHR that same day. The center’s contract with FM 90 requires that the station give at least one month’s notice before pulling the program, the complaint stated.

Funcinpec officials said they suspended the show be­cause it broadcast “exaggerated information” critical of party pr­es­ident Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Though FM 90 had planned a meeting with CCHR officials later this week to settle the dispute, neither CCHR director Kem Sokha nor any other representative from the center will attend, “Voice of Democracy”, acting director Pang Uon Teang said Tuesday.

“We cannot accept the conditions raised by Funcinpec, which…forbid the program to criticize individual persons,” he said.

Station director Nhem Soph­anna declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday, saying only that he pulled the program on the orders of Funcinpec officials.

Information Minister Lu Lays­reng said Monday that CCHR could resume broadcast on the con­dition that it stop unfairly criticizing party leaders. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

If awarded, the $35,000 will be used to buy radios to distribute to participants in the center’s regular public forums in poor provinces, Pang Uon Teang said. “We will offer radios to the people so they can listen to the news,” he said.

With its FM 90 spot canceled, CCHR may request more broadcast hours on Beehive radio station, which also hosts its programs, said former Funcinpec senator Kem Sokha.

When a government forms, he will request a license to form his own radio station, he said, adding that the dispute with FM 90 does not affect the center’s relationship with Funcinpec.

 

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