Ownership Dispute Halts 90 FM’s Talk Shows

Radio 90 FM, a former Fun­cinpec-friendly station, stopped broadcasting its regular talk shows and news shows  Satur­day, in favor of songs and advertisements, a station representative said Monday.

Touch Kongkea, speaking on behalf of his late brother Chhim Vansithong, who was the station’s director, said Radio 90 FM is reviewing contracts with show producers, including well-known radio personality Kem Sokha, the outspoken director of the Cam­bodian Center for Human Rights.

Kem Sokha decried the station’s decision to stop broadcasting his programs on Monday.

“It means they prevent my voice speaking to the listeners regarding the problem of freedom, democracy and human rights,” he said in an interview on Beehive Radio 105 FM.

The move to pull 90 FM’s regular news and views content comes amid legal wrangling over who has ownership of the station.

Touch Kongkea said that after Chhim Vansithong’s death on Dec 2, 2003, his family returned to the station, only to find it was occupied by a man named Nheim Sophana, who announced he was the station’s new director.

“We did not know where he is from. My brother occupied this property since Feb 9, 1993, and he bought the land…to make the radio station 90 FM,” Touch Kongkea said.

Chhim Vansithong’s wife Keo Sothea, 31, issued a complaint in Phnom Penh Municipal Court over the ownership of the station, which ruled in her favor on Feb 12. Presiding judge Kim Sophon could not be contacted Monday.

After the court verdict, the station has resumed business but “Now our 90 FM will broadcast only songs and spot advertisements,” Touch Kongkea said.

Ministry of Information press department chief Thieng Vand­arong, said Monday the ministry has recognized Nheim Sophana as 90 FM’s director for nearly one year. Thieng Vandarong said he did not know about the ownership dispute.

Nheim Sophana could not be reached Monday.


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