MobiTel May Move Into TV

Cambodia’s top mobile phone company, MobiTel, is considering cooperating with a struggling television station to start a new channel, company head Kith Meng said on Wednesday.

“We had started discussions with one TV station, but that fell apart,” Kith Meng said, refusing to disclose which station it was. He said the company was still studying the idea, which is tentatively scheduled to bear fruit next year.

MobiTel already has a license from the Ministry of Information to operate its own television station, Minister Lu Laysreng said.

The license belongs solely to Mo­biTel and does not require it to co­operate with an existing operator, he added.

MobiTel began preparations to start a station a couple of months ago, but has not yet invested fully in the project, the minister said. The start-up capital for such a ven­ture will be sizable, he noted. “This isn’t small money—it will be millions of dollars,” Lu Lay­sreng said.

Kith Meng said the station would focus on promoting Cam­bo­­dian culture and traditions through educational programming, but he would not disclose more financial or technical details about the potential station.

Lu Laysreng said he welcomed the arrival of a new channel. “It’s better to have more than less TV stations,” he said. More Cambo­dian television channels will give viewers more choices in domestic programming so they don’t switch to foreign stations in­stead, he said.

The minister’s push for more domestic media production re­cently resulted in a limit on foreign programming on Cambodi­an television—effective next year—when only 20 percent of a station’s programs may be produced abroad.

This Friday, the ministry has scheduled a working dinner with the television association to discuss the measure, which the minister claims will protect Cambo­dian culture from external corruption.

Lu Laysreng said the next step will be to require stations to state monetary amounts in riel, rather than US dollars or Thai baht, in their broadcasts and marketing materials.

Cambodia has six television sta­tions—state-run TVK and five privately held channels, several of which are owned by politicians.


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