Information Minister Khieu Kanharith on Wednesday revealed plans to split state-run TVK into three separate television stations but reiterated that no frequencies are available for independent radio broadcaster Mom Sonando.
Mr. Sonando, who owns Beehive radio station, has over the past several years repeatedly requested a TV broadcast license only to be rejected each time on the grounds of a bandwidth shortage.
He last submitted a request on February 10.
“Now we don’t have television stations to offer because there are no frequencies,” Mr. Kanharith claimed on the sidelines of the Ministry of Information’s annual meeting Wednesday.
“The main thing now is that we push through a digital [broadcasting] system. TVK will be split into three channels because it has so many programs. There will be channels for political programs, entertainment programs and education or general news.”
Mr. Sonando said by telephone he could not understand Mr. Kanharith’s refusals to grant him a license amid approvals for many other broadcasters.
“He is talking without reason,” Mr. Sonando said.
“Why is his side offering frequencies to operate TV and radio? I have requested this since 2005.”
“I will wait one more week and if I have no response from the ministry [concerning the latest license request], I will hold a protest in front of the Ministry of Information,” Mr. Sonando added.
The last protest by Mr. Sonando at the ministry in January was crushed by military police armed with batons, smoke and stun grenades.
Yem Ponhearith, spokesman for the CNRP, which has also called for a license to compete with the existing plethora of pro-CPP stations, which are all either aligned with, or supporters of, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party, also questioned the veracity of Mr. Kanharith’s claims about bandwidth.
“We want to have technical experts check if there are really no frequencies,” Mr. Ponharith said. “We have seen there are many frequencies for some who ask for TV and radio stations.”
The Information Ministry has awarded at least three new television licenses since 2011, government records show. Those stations include the Cambodian News Channel, which is owned by Royal Group chairman Kith Meng, who is close to Prime Minister Hun Sen, and BTV, which is owned by Hun Mana, the prime minister’s daughter.
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