At least six private media companies say they will refuse to sell air time to political parties campaigning for the July 27 elections, a move that critics call a CPP clamp-down on opposition parties.
Political parties have never had equal access to private newspapers and television and radio stations, which is guaranteed in a newly adopted electoral law.
Several television and radio stations met last month and issued a statement urging private media to stay out of political campaigning.
Election monitors denounced the decision, calling it a response to CPP pressure and saying it deprived smaller, lesser-known parties a chance to appeal to voters.
“We anticipated this obstruction from the government-controlled media,” said Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.
Media companies and the National Election Committee are scheduled to discuss time limits for advertisements before campaigning begins June 26, Daphne Skillen, NEC media adviser, said.
But stations like Apsara will not take part, said the station’s general director, Sok Ey San. He said short-term ads would cost him clients in the long run.
“We will lose our long-term customers and benefits if we start a short-term contract with political parties,” Sok Ey San said.
Thai Norak Satia, the general director of Bayon Television and Radio, said his station had broadcast voter education programs, but that “my television’s screen is not used for political parties to conduct their election campaigns.”
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said stations have the right not to sell air time, as long as they refuse all parties. He denied claims that CPP officials own all private media in Cambodia.
Still, the stations’ choice to shun political campaigning was a sign of “dictatorship,” said Khmer Front Party Deputy President Sun Sokunmealea.
The CPP “doesn’t want any political parties to show their platforms on the television,” she said. “They are afraid that other political parties will inform the voters about CPP scandals.”