Ministry of Information officials said Wednesday they are asking Japan for almost $5 million to upgrade five rural TV stations and build two new ones in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces in the northeast to give isolated Cambodians more access to state-run TV.
The proposal comes at a time when Information Minister Lu Laysreng has called for a reduction of foreign programming on Cambodian TV. Lu Laysreng has complained for months that as much as 70 percent of the movies broadcast on Cambodian TV are foreign-produced and weakening Cambodians’ sense of self.
“There’s a social crisis in our country. We need all these broadcast media, radio and TV, to help educate and strengthen the social morality of our people,” he said Wednesday.
Under the proposal, the five existing stations will be made significantly more powerful, according to TVK General Director Mau Ayuth. Local media critic Norbert Klein said any improvement in Cambodia’s telecommunications infrastructure would have a positive impact on the country. While he acknowledged Lu Laysreng’s concern about foreign programming, Klein also said particular attention will have to be paid to the content of the programming that would be available to a larger number of Cambodians with the improved stations.
“The role of that medium, its impact on Khmer culture—there is a lot of legitimate concern but that can easily turn into nationalistic fears,” Klein said.