Washington, DC — The Broadcasting Board of Governors yesterday condemned the Cambodian Ministry of Information’s decision to force FM stations to stop airing election programming from Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America.
The ministry prohibited five affiliate stations in Cambodia from running Khmer-language RFA and VOA programs on Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3 — the day of national commune elections. The shows were all taken off the air without notice.
“This action runs contrary to the principles of free and fair elections,” said BBG Presiding Governor Michael Lynton. “News and information programs help shape a well-educated citizenry and should be encouraged, not denied. These attempts to silence RFA and VOA are counterproductive to the goals of building a democratic society in Cambodia.”
RFA and VOA play a critical role in informing the Cambodian electorate on fundamental election issues, and they provide a platform for the full spectrum of political opinions in the country. Due to government-imposed restrictions on political coverage by all media to avoid undue influence on the elections’ outcome, their programs on Sunday were focused on information necessary to voting, such as when polling stations were to open and close.
Two VOA Khmer Radio programs on June 3 were broadcast as normal on an AM frequency, via short wave and online.