Media Remains Political Asset
Despite a strong economic progress and better media technical skills, media is not always driven as business asset and remains political resources. Successful media outlets however, require strong financial backers to start up. And so far, in practice, the ruling party and co-opted business elite are the most capable of it. (1)
No Audits Required
Although the Law on Commercial Enterprises (2005) requires all companies to prepare and maintain financial and business records, neither the Law on Corporate Accounts, their Audit and the Accounting Profession (2002), nor the Law on Commercial Enterprises (2005) require audits to be published. This limits the possibilities of scrutiny of company finances by external sources according to a Transparency International report from 2014.
Limited Transparency Regulations
Legal provisions regarding transparency in the media sector are likewise limited, which led to an opaque media market. Available economic data varies tremendously: some sources state that the sector is attracting $50 million a year; others estimate the advertising expenditure growth from $150 million annually to $500 million today. While digital advertising is growing fast, TV and radio are still favoured because of their wide reach.
Media outlets are not required to submit reports on their financing or activities to any oversight body such e.g. a broadcasting regulatory authority. Thus, few legal checks and balances are in place to ensure accountability of the media are provided. As an effect, as Transparency International showed, they disclose at most incomplete information, and are especially careful to publish information regarding revenue, contracting, and expenditure. As all businesses have to be registered as Value Added Tax (VAT) tax payers, they fear being demanded to pay higher taxes as soon as their revenue/ profit becomes public. (2)
Centralized Media Market
Different media organizations exist in and outside of the capital, although the majority are based in Phnom Penh. No major print media organizations exists outside of the capital, although several provincial newspapers do. Radio stations, however, are more broadly distributed. 70 are registered across the country, half of which are based in Phnom Penh. (3)