Local broadcaster ABC Radio, which this week launched a campaign against Radio Free Asia, yesterday saw its time slot on TV3 taken away by the Ministry of Information after a video of an ABC presenter jumping over a table and playfully slapping a co-host went viral on social media.
The incident, which occurred during a Saturday episode of the TV show ABC 3 Spring, resulted in a ministry statement today asking TV3 to pull the plug for “insulting the audience”.
TV3 deputy director Chheang Buntha, in confirming the cancellation, called the three-hour show “very clumsy”, adding that cancelling the show would have little effect as it had only been on-air since January 1.
ABC owner Seng Bunveng, alias Aja A, posted an apology video on Facebook yesterday saying they had already “punished” the presenter, but also said the segment had been in keeping with the show’s spirit.
“That she climbed on the table is not her fault, because this is the show. She did wrong by using [a derogatory] word on her Facebook post,” he said, a reference to her usage of the Khmer word phorng, or “it”, when referring to someone on the social media platform.
The Information Ministry could not be reached yesterday.
Separately, ABC Radio continued its campaign against RFA that began on Monday with allegations that the US-funded broadcaster had requested the US demand Cambodia pay back debts acquired under the Lon Nol regime, long a point of contention.
In a live video posted on Facebook yesterday, ABC addressed the Cambodia National Rescue Party and RFA.
“You call us crazy, stupid. We can also act like you, but we don’t want to do it . . . If you push us to do it in a dishonest way, we will do it,” the station said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sister Hun Sinath seemingly supported ABC Radio’s actions in a Facebook post yesterday. “[ABC Radio] send the message to the US Embassy in order to find justice for the victims that suffered under the war of 1970 to 1975,” she said.
RFA public affairs director Rohit Mahajan said in an email that RFA had no interest “engaging with smear campaigns”, adding that the broadcaster had never advocated a position on the debt but rather reported on its status and had “analysts weighing in on the likelihood and hurdles of its cancellation”.
Chhay Sophal, board member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said he supported the ministry’s action regarding the termination of the TV program. “This is news, not art, not entertainment. You have to separate what is news and what is entertainment,” he said.
He went on to condemn ABC radio’s anti-RFA campaign. “We never fight against our colleagues in journalism . . . Such a campaign is meaningless.”