Officials of state-run Television Kampuchea (TVK) are making quiet noises about becoming a more independent operation.
TVK Deputy General Director Him Suong said a more independent station might lead to a wider variety of programming for viewers. Much of what is aired is either government-generated news or educational shows.
Ministry of Information Secretary of State Khieu Kanharith said the economics of television make such a transition difficult. He admits most viewers don’t want to watch educational shows.
“But to keep our cultural lasting and protect it, television has a number of educational programs to play,” he said. “[So] they have fewer commercials, which means they can’t afford to run themselves.”
Em Sovannara, assistant coordinator of Media in Society at the NGO Open Forum of Cambodia, said he supported autonomy for TVK because the station would dare to criticize government officials if it is warranted. He noted the station received a warning when it showed parliamentarians asleep during a National Assembly session.
TVK began broadcasting as a state-run station in 1983. “Now we want to be autonomous,” said Him Suong. “We have raised this request several times with the state leaders. But they just smiled.”
Him Suong also quoted Prime Minister Hun Sen, “If you are in the government, you must not criticize the government.”