Minister: Equal Campaign Airtime a Goal

Funcinpec Minister of In­formation Lu Laysreng said he hoped all political parties will have equal air time on national television and radio during the lead-up to February’s commune council elections.

But he noted that some television stations belong to the government or to private businessmen close to those in power in the government.

“So they are able to broadcast [information] on their own television station,” Lu Laysreng said Thursday at a workshop discussing media and the election process. “I am sorry that the Sam Rainsy Party does not have its own television station. But it has newspapers, and it can do its propaganda by its own newspapers.

“If the Sam Rainsy Party had its own television station, then they would also do too much propaganda,” he said.

On Wednesday, Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party officials criticized TVK, which is run by the Ministry of Information, for failing to give all parliamentary candidates equal access during the 1998 elections.

The officials expressed fears that the same unbalanced coverage may again occur in the lead-up to next February’s commune council elections. Election laws promise equal coverage for all political parties, the officials said.

But TVK deputy director general Dy Soknath said Wednesday the amount of televised air time each political party gets is decided by the National Election Com­mittee. The NEC cannot de­cide on this until candidates register next month and the NEC knows how many parties are running.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party has repeatedly been denied a government license to operate a radio station. Last year, Fun­­cinpec re-opened its FM 90.5 radio station, which was shut down after the 1997 factional fighting.

Im Sousdey, NEC secretary- general, promised a fair media policy for all parties.

Lu Laysreng said each party will send its filmed footage to government-owned television stations. He promised that each parties’ film would not be edited.


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