A survey of 600 television viewers—300 in Phnom Penh and 300 in three towns in Kompong Cham province—shows that TV5’s entertainment programming makes it the most popular channel in the country.
Of the people polled by the National Television of Cambodia, or TVK, with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the National Institute of Management, 55.33 percent said they watch TV5 most often. TVK came in second with 22.17 percent, while only 0.67 percent said they favored last-place Bayon TV.
Of the seven local stations, TVK was voted No 1 for educational and news programming, but fell behind TV5 for entertainment shows. TV3 was the second-most popular station for entertainment among Phnom Penh viewers. The survey suggests that TV3 draws few viewers outside of the capital because of a weak broadcast radius.
“This survey is very good for our station. After seeing the results we try to increase our program production, especially entertainment programs,” said Him Suong, the deputy general director of TVK.
“We can’t air too many foreign movies or programs because we are the national station. It depends on what the government allows us to do,” he said.
As for entertainment fare, comedy shows proved most popular, with foreign movies, usually Thai productions, close behind. Khmer movies ranked fourth, after music shows.
But according to the survey, Khmer movies are considerably more popular in the provinces than in Phnom Penh. Him Suong said that most of the movies shown on TV5 are Thai movies, which are popular because their stories and themes are similar to those of Khmer movies.
The Cambodian movie industry has floundered since the Khmer Rouge cut short a national film craze led by King Norodom Sihanouk during the 1960s and 1970s.
Attempts to renew that industry and interest have been hampered by bootleggers and by a dearth of outlets. Consequently, neighboring movie producers have easily moved in on the Cambodian market.
Sok Ey San, general director of Apsara TV, said that despite his station placing sixth out of seven in the poll, Apsara is popular in the provinces, where more viewers appreciate its Khmer-only programming.
“Our TV station shows only Khmer culture so that’s why a lot of people in Phnom Penh don’t like it. But some people in the city still like it and most people in the rural areas want to watch our programs,” he said.
Sok Ey San said he has been considering starting another station in Battambang town that would also air only Khmer productions, but he has not yet figured out how to finance it.
Thai Norak Sitia, the general director for Bayon TV, said his station’s bottom ranking had nothing to do with the quality of its broadcasts.
“It is very difficult for the people in the rural areas to watch my station because we are on the UHF band,” he said.
Still only three out of 300 people polled in Phnom Penh said they watched Bayon TV more than other stations.