Election Watch by Sophoan: Bias of the media in Cambodia

Posted by: | Posted on: July 1, 2013

In conclusion, the media plays vital role to receive free and fair election. The share of time and footage must be equal. The reporters must be in the sate of professionalism and independence. But in Cambodia, the independent reporters have been considered non-existence. Only few foreign media affiliates who are independent but still under fear of reprisal of their news if it is critical to the government or powerful entities. The NEC has no ability to resort independent media at all as this body is likely created by the controller of the media.

 

Democracy couldn’t be mushroomed if the media is not a mean for people to weigh their decision making and social participation.

It is a trustworthy and popular word saying that Cambodia under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the media in this country is not neutral and independent. On his term of every full five years, major media including TVs, Radio channels and printing media, have been drumming loudly to support the ruling party. Those reporters must avoid as much as possible to report news critical to the government. Particularly, TV channels of both government-owned TVK and other several private channels have aired every word of Hun Sen’s speech from the beginning to the end without interrupting by ads sport during all events of his speech and participation.

However, during the election campaign, I do hope those traditional practices would be changed and National Election Committee (NEC) can monitor all media not to be biased. Hence, my thought has been changed after watching two video clips available online on the first day of election campaign on 27 June 2013.

First clip is from Cambodia Television Network (CTN) which is a private channel and it is popularly viewed by major Cambodians. The commentator from the main office in Phnom Penh coordinates to different reporters from different locations entire Cambodia. Those local reporters are likely at the same mindset in their reporting that there are only large rally from the CPP, and they don’t see other party organized a rally during their reporting time. The news anchor repeated that it is true that only CPP that has much ability for the campaign; they have a lot of supporters and volunteers. Once, the anchor tried to balance his news by saying that it is normal for the government to have more accessibility and organizing ability more than other parties as same as in Germany and many other countries (sic). Thus, the footage broadcasted the rally of CPP more than other party especially the key rival of this party: CNRP.

The second clip is from TVK, the only one channel considered free media owned by the government using the people’s money (tax collection), but previous times before the national election campaign, this channel has never allowed opposition parties to air their voice at all. Their first news footage on the first day of Election Campaign, the rally footage repeatedly displayed the ruling party (CPP), not the opponent party (CNRP). The volume of footage released to the public for people view is not in the equal sharing level at all.

In conclusion, the media plays vital role to receive free and fair election. The share of time and footage must be equal. The reporters must be in the sate of professionalism and independence. But in Cambodia, the independent reporters have been considered non-existed. Only few foreign media affiliates who are independent but still under fear of reprisal of their news if it is critical to the government or powerful entities. The NEC has no ability to resort independent media at all as this body is likely created by the controller of the media.

Democracy couldn’t be mushroomed if the media is not a mean for people to weigh their decision making and social participation.