Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on two national TV broadcasters to spend more money on improving the quality of their international news coverage.
Speaking in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, Hun Sen said state-run TVK and the CPP-affiliated Apsara television station were broadcasting news that was already old, rather than paying to get more up to date news.
Referring to TVK specifically, he said he would order an audit of their finances if they did not improve.
He said both broadcasters should subscribe to news agencies such as Reuters, Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press and CNN so that they could broadcast the news when it was fresh.
“It is not expensive,” Hun Sen said.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said TVK could not afford to buy news from stations like CNN because they had spent a substantial part of their budget on covering National Assembly debates.
Only a portion of the costs of broadcasts of National Assembly and Senate sessions in their entirety are covered by the Finance Ministry, Khieu Kanharith said.
TVK receives news for free from French and Chinese television stations, but it takes time to translate that news into Khmer, he said.
Hun Sen also said that TVK must not charge the government for broadcasting Assembly sessions as the station is getting enough revenue from selling television advertisements.
Apsara television Director Sok Ey San said that although he was thankful for Hun Sen’s recommendations, his station could not afford to pay for international news services.
“I want the BBC and CNN but I cannot afford it,” he said.
Apsara receives news from Chinese station CCTV and Japan’s NHK for free, he added.
Independent journalism trainer Moeun Chhean Nariddh said Hun Sen was correct in his analysis that there was a poor range of international news on national TV stations. However, the focus of Cambodian television should be on local and national news, he said.
“The Cambodian public are still very uninformed about national issues which are important to them, such as land-grabbing and corruption,” he added.
(Additional reporting by Fergal Quinn)