Cambodia drops ban on airing foreign radio broadcasts

Source:AFP Published: 2013-6-30 23:48:02

Cambodia on Sunday reversed a ban on local radio stations airing foreign-produced broadcasts in the run-up to next month's general election, following US criticism of the move as an attack on freedom of expression.

Local FM radio stations were last week ordered by the Information Ministry to provide "neutral" coverage of the election campaign and to suspend the broadcasting of Khmer-language programs made by foreign broadcasters until after the July 28 election.

The edict was criticized by broadcasters and the US State Department, who called it a "serious infringement" of freedom of expression.

But in a U-turn on Sunday the information ministry issued a statement saying that it had allowed local radio stations "to resume airing (foreign-produced) programs as usual."

The ministry said it took the decision following a "request," without elaborating who had asked for the ban to be lifted.

US-funded Radio Free Asia, which produces content in the Khmer language, had called the ban "a blatant strategy to silence the types of disparate and varied voices that characterize an open and free society."

Cambodia on Thursday officially started campaigning for the poll, expected to be won by strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen who is seeking to extend his 28-year grip on the country.

Rights groups welcomed the ministry's decision to withdraw the radio ban.


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