Government Silences ‘Biased’ Beehive Radio

The Ministry of Information shut down the opposition-leaning Sambok Khmoum (Beehive) Radio on Wednesday, saying the station’s coverage endangered the social order.

The station, FM 105, was the last local Khmer-language station that broadcast the opposition’s point of view, according to a media analyst. Beehive Radio went off the air at 8 am Wed­nesday, said owner Mam Son­ando, who led a small, un­­­suc­cessful opposition party in the July 26 elections.

Khieu Kanharith, the ministry’s secretary of state and chief government spokesman, said the station has recently carried biased and untrue information.

The station had called the re­sults of the July 26 elections fraudulent and also had broadcast inflammatory stories about alleged Viet­namese involvement in a recent spate of poisonings, he said.

“This kind of information can create political and social turmoil among the listening public,” Khieu Kanharith said. The order to close the station said manag­ers violated an agreement with the Infor­mation Ministry not to air political propaganda, he said.

Mam Sonando denied his station was biased, but said he de­cided to go off the air when he received the ministry’s order. “I decided to close the radio on this request because I want to avoid any problem during these tense times,” he said. Last month, Mam Sonando said he had decided to put his two-year-old station up for sale because it had not been profitable.

On Wednesday, the station broadcast an interview with Funcinpec President Prince No­rodom Ranariddh, and Mam Sonando had recently declared support for the opposition sit-in that was broken up by police Tuesday.

One Western media analyst, who has spent months monitoring Cambodia’s radio and television broadcasts, said the shutdown of Beehive Radio meant that all remaining stations support the ruling CPP. “It is the only mass media in the country that doesn’t speak the party line,” the analyst said of the station.

Opposition parties have cited the CPP’s domination of the airwaves as one factor that made the election less free and fair.

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