The National Election Committee plans to ask the Ministry of Information to force state television to give equal news coverage to all political parties in the run-up to July’s elections, NEC spokesman Leng Sochea said on Sunday.
The request would be a provision of the committee’s regulations for the 30-day campaign period that precedes the election. The regulations, seen as crucial to ensuring a fair election, are still being drafted but should be adopted this week, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said Sunday.
The NEC’s powers do not allow it to regulate state or private media directly.
Rather than asking TVK to air parties’ self-produced advertisements, the NEC wants TVK to produce its own profiles of all the parties as part of its local news coverage, Leng Sochea said.
“A large percentage of the people get their news from TVK. That’s why we want TVK to carry campaign coverage—so more people will understand the political parties,” he said.
The NEC’s proposal would have TVK start airing such coverage 45 days before the election, 15 days before the parties are allowed to start campaigning.
Tep Nitha said the NEC would find funds from donor countries to support TVK for its expanded coverage.
But Minister of Information Lu Laysreng said Sunday that plan is unrealistic. Instead, he said, the ministry would give each party 10 minutes per day on TVK, free of charge, to air its own spots during the campaign.
“Each party will have 10 minutes to explain its political platform,” the minister said. “But parties are not allowed to criticize other parties.”
Sun Sokunmelea, secretary-general of the Khmer Front Party, said small parties are at a vast disadvantage to the three major parties without the assurance of equal access to media.