BBG logo

BBG Welcomes Lifting of Foreign Media Ban in Cambodia, Urges Complete Media Freedom

BBG Logo BlueThe Broadcasting Board of Governors welcomed the decision by the Cambodian government this weekend to lift its ban on Khmer-language programming from overseas ahead of the July 28 national elections, but called for continued international vigilance regarding remaining restrictions on media in Cambodia both before the elections and beyond.

“We are pleased that the Cambodian government has decided to allow broadcasting by all groups on the upcoming elections, but restrictions on media freedom remain,” said Victor Ashe, a BBG board member and the vice chair of Radio Free Asia. “An important part of all democracies is to allow full media coverage of all candidates and campaigns with the people making the final decision on election day.  Furthermore, the people of Cambodia deserve nothing short of complete freedom of the press at all times.”

Ashe, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland from 2004 to 2009
, has visited Cambodia three times in as many years — most recently in May, when he met with leaders in media and civil society on behalf of the BBG and RFA.

The Cambodian government lifted the ban after an international outcry that included statements from the U.S. State Department, the BBG, RFA and Voice of America, both of which are supported by the BBG and have Khmer-language programs.

RFA will continue to provide this programming on shortwave radio as well as through its websites and social media platforms. VOA will continue providing news and information broadcasts on direct-to-home satellite, web streaming and shortwave and AM radio broadcasts from outside Cambodia.  Both are in a position to add shortwave frequencies should the Cambodian government reverse course and restrict media freedom even further during the coming month.
The U.S. Embassy in Cambodia issued a statement today calling the decision to drop the ban on foreign broadcasts “a positive development in line with the requirements of a democratic electoral process.”  The embassy urged the Cambodian government “to ensure full press freedom, including during the campaign period up to and including the day of the national elections, and to take other steps recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia.”