June 28, 2013
The Broadcasting Board of Governors has condemned a directive issued
by the Cambodian government that forbids the broadcasting of all foreign
programming for 31 days prior to the July 28 election. The directive
affects all FM radio stations broadcasting Radio Free Asia and Voice of
“I am extremely troubled by the Cambodian government’s actions
today,” said Victor Ashe, a member of the BBG’s governing board and the
vice chairman of the board overseeing RFA and who served as the U.S.
Ambassador to Poland from 2004-2009. “By denying its citizens access to
unbiased news and information in this critical time it is undermining
its own legitimacy and blatantly repudiating the very democracy it
claims to espouse. When I visited Cambodia in May, I met with leaders
in the media and civil society. I know first-hand how much they rely on
the reporting of RFA and VOA.”
Radio Free Asia reports that at least 10 FM stations in Cambodia have
dropped programming as a result, and e-mails from listeners are already
starting to pour in. VOA’s Khmer Service says the government’s decision
to pull VOA radio programs from FM stations has sparked immediate
complaints on Facebook and other social media sites. Both broadcasters have issued statements condemning the ban.
Radio Free Asia will continue to provide programming through its websites and social media platforms as well as on shortwave radio. VOA will continue providing news and information broadcasts on direct-to-home satellite, web streaming
and shortwave and AM radio broadcasts from outside Cambodia. Because
of the Cambodian government’s action, both broadcasters are now
considering adding shortwave frequencies.
In a statement today, the U.S. State Department urged the Royal
Government of Cambodia to reconsider the decision. “This directive is a
serious infringement on freedom of the press and freedom of expression,
and starkly contradicts the spirit of a healthy democratic process,”
said State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell.