BBG Research Series: Cambodia — media use from big screen to small

Internet growth exponential in Cambodia

Cambodians are increasingly turning to the Internet for news and information, with 12% reporting weekly Internet use (up from 4.9% in 2012), according to new data issued today by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Gallup.

“Between 2012 and 2014 Internet use just took off as a result of the new broadband infrastructure in the country,” said Betsy Henderson, director of research, training and evaluation at Radio Free Asia.

Of Cambodians who reported accessing the Internet in the past week, an overwhelming majority (89.2%) used a mobile phone as compared to a desktop (18.6%), laptop (15.2%), or tablet (7.6%). This signals the growing importance of mobile in the Cambodian media market: 88% of households report owning a mobile phone, and 68.8% of Cambodians report owning a personal mobile phone.

Although urban residents are driving the adoption of technologies such as Internet connections, computers and tablets, there is little difference in household ownership of mobile phones between urban (93.2%) and rural (86.5%) Cambodians.

“We’re also seeing large growth of FM-enabled mobile phones being used to listen to radio content,” said Jinling Elliott, digital media research analyst at the International Broadcasting Bureau. More urban Cambodians use a mobile phone to listen to the radio (57.7%) than a traditional radio set (50.3%). Rural weekly radio listeners are still more likely to use a traditional radio set (69.6%), but more than a third of rural listeners tune in using a mobile phone (35.6%).

Although Cambodians perceive their media to be more free than residents of other Southeast Asian nations, according to the Gallup World Poll, that perceived freedom has decreased since 2012 as pressure on media organizations increases.

“Radio Free Asia and Voice of America remain among the most widely used news sources in Cambodia, thanks in part to a successful affiliate strategy which places their programming on popular national radio and TV networks,” said BBG Governor Michael Meehan, “Together they reach almost one in three Cambodians weekly.”

Speakers included:

  • Chris Stewart, Partner, Gallup
  • Bruce Sherman, Director, Office of Strategy and Development, BBG
  • Nicole Naurath, Regional Director for Asia, Gallup
  • Jinling Elliott, PhD, Digital Media Research Analyst, International Broadcasting Bureau
  • Betsy Henderson, Director of Research, Training and Evaluation, Radio Free Asia

A central part of the BBG’s statutory mandate is to support freedom and democracy in a rapidly changing international environment. The ability of the media to report freely and accurately is critical in world affairs. Additionally, it is important for leaders and policy makers to understand how different populations around the globe view the quality, honesty and accuracy of their media, as well as how free they perceive their media to be.