TV, Radio Stations Cancel News Programs

Several television and radio stations scrapped their news programs on Thursday to comply with Wednesday’s directive by the Min­is­try of Information to cease reading newspapers over the air.

Representatives of the private stations TV5 and TV3 said they canceled their programs after receiving the directive, while CTN flouted the order, even reading a newspaper article about the ban on air.

Journalists continued to theorize about the reasons for the ban, but In­­for­mation Minister Khieu Kan­ha­rith and ministry Secretary of State Uk Prathna, who signed the or­der, did not answer telephone calls.

The order stated that while reading out articles, newscasters were making additional comments, which it claimed contravened the code of journalism ethics.

Ty Ranath, a TV3 presenter, said his station would obey the order and worried that he may have incited it.

“The directive might have been made due to my commentary on land disputes,” he said.

“I added commentary on land disputes: That there are many injustices dealing with land disputes, in which the majority of disputed land occurs when a rich person violates a poor person,” he added.

Center for Social Development President Chea Vannath said the order was part of a trend.

“Some news might relate to corruption cases or illegal logging in­volving some government officials,” she said.

“The idea is how to slow down these freedoms [of speech]. This is the ongoing process, step-by-step.”

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said he doubted the legality of the order and suggested that ministry officials reread the Cam­bodian Constitution.

He said the move would disenfranchise the poor and illiterate.

“A large number of Cambodian people cannot read or write. They rely on TV and radio to absorb the news. This is another way to ob­struct the dissemination of information,” Son Chhay said.

“[The government does] not want people to absorb any information except propaganda,” he added.

But some print journalists celebrated the move.

Reach Sambath, a lecturer of journalism at Royal University of Phnom Penh, said the order was due to newspapers’ complaints and would encourage professionalism and not plagiarism on television. “I think this action will affect only those who are too lazy to work,” he said.



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