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Media Remained Unfair in Campaign: Monitor


The vast majority of Cambodian media remained biased through the election campaign period, a committee of neutral observers said Monday.

In a report released Friday, the Asian Network for Free Elections said the broadcast and print media provided unbalanced stories in favor of the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

"Most [media outlets] have not been fair in broadcasting or writing news of political parties equally," the group said.

Candidates of the CPP have more possibilities for coverage in media, including images, photographs, activities and political message to voters, Somsri Hananuntasuk, executive director of Anfrel, said.

This year marked the first mission of Anfrel in observing Cambodian elections. In a three-week mission, they brought in observers from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Nepal and India.

The observers traveled to eight provinces, including Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kampot, Battambang, Banthey Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kandal and Takeo provinces.

In Cambodia, there are 24 radio and seven TK stations. Print media includes more than 300 outlets. Anfrel noted that besides, UNDP, NDI and NEC programming, non-ruling parties did not receive any coverage by these outlets, Anfrel said.

CPP lawmaker Chiem Yeap said CPP had a possibility of media coverage because it is the ruling party, and CPP rents time on both radio and television.

"CPP booked the time a year ago for broadcast during the election campaign," he said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said he recognized the Anfrel observations, and he said the NEC has instructed the media many times to maintain professional and election standards.

However, NEC has no role to control the media, he said.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said the gap between ruling party and opposition party coverage were as far apart as "land and sky."

The Sam Rainsy Party has one hour per day aired on two radio stations, but the CPP uses nearly all the stations all the time, he said.

The unfair use of media is a major concern for non-governmental agencies, Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said.

Voters were not getting information from all parties joining the election, he said.

The NEC has allowed more than 24,000 local and 400 international observers from 12 countries.

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