Citing a surplus in the number of broadcast outlets nationwide, the Ministry of Information has suspended issuing new licenses for radio and television stations that relay their signal to the provinces, officials said Sunday.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the suspension is needed to help officials control the high number of outlets that are cropping up in the wave of improved technology.
But Pa Nguon Teang, Voice of Democracy director for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that, if anything, the country suffers from a lack of information and access to it rather than a surplus.
“I want the government and the Ministry of Information to show with transparency about the surplus of radios and televisions at provinces and cities, because people could not get information enough yet,” Pa Nguon Teang said.
In an open letter to the public, Khieu Kanharith said officials need to enact a Broadcasting Law to regulate content before any more licenses can be issued.
The law would lay out what kinds of radio and TV stations the government will allow, including those run by the state, by private entities or by local communities, Khieu Kanharith said.
Pa Nguon Teang said that CCHR has been trying to establish its own radio station since 2003 but was told by the Ministry of Information that there was no frequency available. He accused the government of quelling the broadcast of neutral and independent information.
“We will try again to ask permission because we believe strongly that the number of radios and televisions in Cambodia is not surplus yet,” Pa Nguon Teang said. “If the government is really willing to provide and broadcast all information to inform people, we could get a license someday.”