PM Blasts TV5 Over Failure To Spotlight Military

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Satur­day blasted television station TV5, which is co-owned by the Ministry of Defense and a Thai company, for not broadcasting enough programs about the Cambodian military.

Speaking to troops in Battam­bang province’s Ratanak Mondol district, the premier threatened to remove the RCAF logo from TV5 screens if the network did not get serious about promoting the army.

“It uses the military sign, but this TV channel does not disseminate the military work often,” Mr Hun Sen said, suggesting that TV5 play more “military encouragement songs.”

The premier said he was particularly disappointed that TV5 had not broadcast the speeches he delivered last month when he toured several sites along the Cambodian-Thai border and met with the frontline troops based there.

Mr Hun Sen went on to single out Lieutenant General Neang Phat, secretary of state with the Ministry of Defense and director of TV5, for not doing his job properly.

“I let you wear stars [the insignia of RCAF generals], but the stars are not working—you don’t know how to do it,” the premier said. “Take away the military symbol and let it be private or just close down the channel. [Neang Phat] has never watched TV. Is that because the insignia are so heavy?” the premier asked.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Phat said that he would take immediate steps to follow the premier’s suggestions.

“We will follow his ideal advice—we’ll insert more programs concerning military tasks,” he said. “Starting from Monday on, we’ll play the songs and the talk concerning the military.”

The RCAF logo will not be re­moved from TV5 screens, he added, and the channel will not lose its license.

Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said that the prime minister raised the issue because “TV5 is an army channel, but it just broadcasts only a little about the army, [the prime minister] said it is better not to say this is an army channel, just say this is TV.”

“Everyone in the nation is now focusing on defense issues, but not Channel 5,” Mr Kanharith added. “Because now we have a situation where we need to have the army, that’s why he also needs to mobilize the people on how to help the army, and this TV station bears the name of “Army TV” and then broadcasts just a bit about the army.”

Mr Kanharith declined to elaborate on the precise nature of the situation that required the military, but tensions with Thailand have been increasing since a July 2008 border standoff precipitated by renewed Thai claims to territory around Preah Vihear temple.

According to Mr Kanharith, TV5 is a “joint venture between the army and a Thai company,” but both he and Defense Ministry spokes­man Chhum Sucheat were unsure yesterday exactly what percentage of the company was owned by the Defense Ministry and the company.

Representatives from Mica Me­dia Co Ltd, the Thai company that co-owns the station, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The prime minister on Wednes­day formally announced a new government initiative that creates formal patronage relationships be­tween military units and private companies, 42 of which have al­ready been partnered with RCAF units.

Unlike other prominent media companies such as Bayon TV and CTN, TV5 is not listed as a participant in the initiative, according to a government document naming the partnerships.



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