No Protest News Is Top News for State Media

Top story: King Norodom Si­hanouk meets a leader of a minor political party. Highlighted: Prince Norodom Sihamoni visits the new palace museum.

In other news: Efforts continue to keep an unprecedented anti-government protest from turning violent.

The national broadcast media on Wednesday downplayed the prolonged and often tense sit-in by thousands of Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party protesters in front of the National Assembly, citing the need to keep the peace.

On state-run TVK’s nightly news Monday, the demonstration rated only the number five story, following stories about the King’s meeting with Khmer Neutral Party Vice President Pen Darith, Se­cond Prime Minister Hun Sen’s meeting with the director of the World Health Organization, Prin­ce Norodom Sihamoni’s visit to a museum and the release of the official 1997 census results.

No video of the demonstration, estimated at 3,000 to 5,000 at its height Wednesday, was aired on TVK, nor on any of the private television stations monitored by The Cambodia Daily.

TVK General Director Moa Ayuth said he made the decision not to show footage to help keep the peace.

“We don’t want to show it because we don’t want to have more upheaval. It is not beneficial to the people,” he said.

The demonstration did get a mention in passing in coverage of co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng’s meeting Tuesday with Lak­han Mehrotra, the Phnom Penh representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The clip showed footage of the meeting and the announcer said Sar Kheng informed Meh­rotra that the demonstration leaders had gone back on a pro­mise to move to Olympic Stadium.

“Sar Kheng asked [Mehrotra] to coordinate to help avoid confrontation,” the announcer said.

National Radio did not directly report on the protest, but did broadcast anti-Sam Rainsy statements. One report quoted an anonymous party president who quoted the King as saying Sam Rainsy was difficult to work with.

Several radio stations also broadcast appeals from the ruling CPP, as well as smaller parties allied with it, for all parties to accept the official preliminary results of the election.

The radio also carried a statement from Phnom Penh Muni­cipal Deputy Governor Chea Sophara saying that he had filed a complaint against Sam Rainsy be­cause demonstrators des­troyed public property on Sunday.

Broadcast media in Cambodia is widely believed to be dominated by the CPP. Besides TVK and National Radio, the main stations are privately owned joint ventures with the ruling party. Last month, a UN report on the media in Cambodia showed that broadcast news reports heavily favored the CPP.



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