Radio National Kampuchea, which is receiving $2.3 million in support from the Australian government and assistance from ABC Radio Australia, will broadcast its first issues-oriented call-in show later this year, government officials said Sunday.
The “talkback” radio show’s intention is to help foster democracy by encouraging on-air debate by telephone callers, according to the Australian Embassy.
“Providing public space for people to share information and voice their concerns is fundamental to democracy in Cambodia,” Australian Ambassador Lisa Filipetto said in a news release Thursday.
The show “is particularly timely as it will support enhanced participation of rural communities in the upcoming Senate elections in 2006, commune elections in 2007 and the next general election in 2008,” the statement added.
Government officials said Sunday that callers will be dissuaded from talking about politics or criticizing the government during the live broadcasts.
Tan Yan, director-general of national radio, said the purpose of the program is to “let the people have their opinions about their living conditions and about their farms and about education.” But “this is not the forum to talk about politics or to serve any political party,” he added.
The director-general explained that no opinions will be censored but talk will be confined to agriculture, rural development, health, education, the environment and other development-related topics.
“If they try to talk about politics, we will try to persuade and coordinate them to turn to talk about [another] subject,” he said.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith also said those who air comments critical of the government in the broadcasts will be asked to stick to the outlined subjects.
“If they want to know about politics, they can listen to the National Assembly members debate,” he said.
Asked whether discussion on political topics or issues critical of the government were meant to be excluded from the radio show, Australian Ambassador Lisa Filipetto said: “Our intention for this program is set out in the press release.”
Radio National Kampuchea’s hour-long talkback radio show is expected to debut in November, initially running two or three times a week, Tan Yan said.