TVK To Ramp Up ‘Equitable’ Campaign Coverage

State TV broadcaster TVK an­nounced Thursday that in the month prior to the July national elections it will offer nearly two hours of daily airtime split evenly between all 11 campaigning parties.

At a meeting held Thursday at the National Election Committee headquarters to discuss television campaign coverage, TVK Director-General Kem Gunawadh an­nounced that 100 minutes of equally divided, daily airtime would be made available between June 26 and July 25.

The UN Development Program and the Information Ministry last year unveiled the “Equity Weekly” TVK television program, which is to air its 52nd installment Sunday at 7:30 pm.

Kem Gunawadh said Thursday his station would be airing similar equity programming organized by the National Election Committee.

“The NEC-organized equity programming is slated to be aired at 8:15 pm and will be replayed at 2:30 pm the following day,” he said.

Opposition party representatives at the meeting offered harsh criticism of the “Equity Weekly” broadcast and of TVK, saying it served the interests of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP.

“You steal state television airtime to serve one party,” Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Channtha said of TVK.

Kem Gunawadh said TVK worked hard and fairly to serve its audience.

“I am not a thief and the courts have never declared that I am a thief,” he said.

NEC Chairman Im Suosdey, who chaired the meeting, said electronic media must inform parties of available airtime for political advertising 15 days in advance of the June 26 start of campaigning and that such airtime must be offered at equal amounts and at equal prices.

If the NEC deems an advertisement is problematic, it may be withheld, he added.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann recalled recent statements by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has said on more than one occasion this month that the ruling party would use CPP-aligned media to gain an advantage ahead of the elections but that TVK would not be used for this purpose.

Im Suosdey said the NEC was only responsible for broadcast media content during the electoral campaign. He also said a call from Yim Sovann for dividing airtime in proportion to the number of constituencies where parties field candidates was not acceptable.

“Each party is equal, old or new alike,” he said.

Several participants at the meeting criticized the equity weekly broadcast, saying it was produced by TVK staff, who they claimed were biased toward the CPP.

UNDP spokesman Men Kim­seng could not be reached for comment Thurs­day.

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