The government has granted a radio broadcast license to Soy Sopheap, the well-known and oft-times controversial political commentator for Cambodia Television Network and publisher of Doeum Ampil or Tamarind Tree newspaper, the Ministry of Information said Wednesday.
The new radio station will exhaust the current available space on the airwaves in Phnom Penh and the ministry will stop issuing licenses, said Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, who could not remember when the permit was issued.
“This [license] is the last one because the frequency is too tight,” the minister added.
Reached by phone Wednesday Mr Sopheap, a self-styled government confidant, said that he applied for the license two months ago and would start broadcasting as soon as he had received confirmation from the ministry.
When asked if he had been granted the license because he was a CPP supporter, Mr Sopheap said no political parties should run radio stations and that the media should provide an objective view.
“I will also broadcast about opposition leader Sam Rainsy and the Human Rights Party president Kem Sokha too,” he said.
Opposition parties have frequently criticized the government for granting radio licenses only to broadcasters who are open supporters or members of the ruling party.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said followers of his party had applied for radio licenses several times but they have so far been denied access to the airwaves.
“We have asked many times but they always say that the frequency is not available,” Mr Sovann said accusing the information ministry of discrimination by only granting licenses to ruling party supporters.
Asked why supporters of the SRP have been denied radio station licenses Mr Kanharith said the ministry could not issue licenses to political parties.
Out of 80 radio stations in Cambodia, including 30 in Phnom Penh, not one of them is owned or operated directly by a political party, he said.
“We grant and issue licenses just for private operations, not kinds of political owned [stations],” he said.