Cambodian government shuts down 15 radio stations

Fifteen radio stations across Cambodia have been shut down by the government allegedly for failing to report about the airtime they sold and to whom, according to The Phnom Penh Post Online on Friday.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told a press conference on Thursday that the closures were not linked to the station’s programming but because they had failed to report how much airtime they were selling and to whom.

“So some radios have not asked for permission from the ministry.  The ministry has to shut them down in order to uphold the law on media,” said Kanharith, adding that Voice of America and Radio Free Asia broadcasts are still available on other stations.

Kanharith said the directive was in line with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call for authorities to ensure there wasn’t a repeat of the 2013 post-election protests, saying media reports questioning the soundness of ink used for voting, accusations of voter’s fraud and the false reports on votes being cast by ”Youon”, a derogatory term for ethnic Vietnamese, fuelled the demonstrations.

On August 21, Phnom Penh-based Moha Nokor – a radio station airing shows produced by VOA, RFA and Cambodia National Rescue Party – and its three provincial affiliates were asked to stop broadcasting and to shut down operations  for allegedly violating their contract with the Information Ministry.

Also, seven other media owners were asked to stop broadcasting from 11 radio stations they own across 10 provinces.

Pa Nguon Teang, director of independent news outlet Voice of Democracy, said broadcaster Sarika FM had cited “administrative and technical” reasons for taking its content off the air.

The closures come as part of a government clampdown on NGOs and media organizations which are being targeted by the Tax Department.