Son Chhay Appeals on Behalf of Radio Station

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay has appealed to the Information Ministry to allow a Kratie pro­vince broadcaster to return to the airwaves after it was shut down last month for reportedly selling airtime to political parties without permission.

However, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday that FM 105.25’s closure was instead due to its unauthorized relaying of foreign broadcasts.

“I didn’t care about the airtime sales to political parties,” he said. “Sales of airtime to foreign radios must go through the ministry,” he added. “What if al-Qaida comes and rents [airtime] too?” he said. “They must ask the

ministry.”

When asked if the foreign programs being aired by 105.25 were content from US-funded broadcasters Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, Khieu Kan­harith said that they were the broadcasters involved.

However, station owner Keo Chan Rotha said Wednesday that FM 105.25 had not yet sold airtime to any foreign broadcaster.

“I have not sold airtime to foreign radios yet,” he said, though RFA and VOA had agreed to purchase airtime in September.

In a letter dated Monday, Son Chhay, who chairs the National Assembly commission on information and media, said the May 28 closure of FM 105.25 had no basis in law.

“According to legal principles such as the Constitution and Press Law, there is no provision giving the Information Minister the right to end the broadcast due to failing to seek permission before selling airtime,” Son Chhay said in the letter.

“The radio closure is political discrimination and in violation of the law,” he added.

The station went on air May 15 and had sold airtime to the SRP, Human Rights Party, Norodom Ranariddh Party, Funcinpec and the League for Democracy Party.

Son Chhay said by telephone Tuesday that FM 105.25 was Kratie’s only broadcaster to offer airtime to parties outside the

“In Kratie, national radio only broadcasts about gifts given by the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said.

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