Although there are about 200 terrestrial and cable television channels in Cambodia, only five are broadcast digitally. In an exclusive interview with Khmer Times, Kem Gunawadh, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Information, explains that digital transformation is a very important requirement for TV stations to survive in the modern world.
KT: First of all, can you explain the differences between analogue and digital television channels?
Mr Gunawadh: In simple words, while analogue technology allows a TV station to broadcast only one channel, digital technology enable TV stations to broadcast multiple channels with different programming. Another difference is that while analogue technology is prone to fading snow and ghost, Digital TV reproduces crystal-clear picture and sound without fading.
KT: Why did the Ministry of Information plan to launch its digital TV channel?
Mr Gunawadh: Our minister, Khieu Kanharith, believes that TVK is focusing too much on politics, and it is very hard to increase revenue. That is why he has been looking for partners to found digital TV channels, focusing on sports, culture and entertainment, and youths. But we are also pushing TV stations all over the country to turn toward digitalisation.
KT: Why has the Ministry of Information been pushing digital television broadcasting?
Mr Gunawadh: First of all, amid the rapid economic growth, Cambodia’s government is paying more attention than ever on infrastructure. While the whole world is going digital, the manufacturers of equipment and devices that support analogue technologies may no longer exist in the future. Ready or not, we have to go digital. In fact, nine members of Asean no longer practise analogue technology. We are the only one lagging behind, but we will jump into it by 2023. To make sure that it is going to happen, the Ministry of Information has created a committee to supervise the digitalisation of state-run media and send our officials to study from our partners, including organisations such as Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development and countries such as Japan, China, South Korea and Asean countries. We are looking for the best way that fits Cambodia’s situation.
KT: What are the challenges faced by TV stations that are going forward with digitalisation?
Mr Gunawadh: First of all, it is the financial capital. Going digital is very expensive, getting all the equipment and devices that need to be bought and skilled people to be hired. Yet, I believe the Royal Government is considering this, especially since Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, had expressed his support for digitalisation at the Media Summit held in Siem Reap this year. It means that the government is preparing [a loan] for it, but we do not know how big the credit will be.
Secondly, it is human resources. The Industry 4.0 means that people have to work with computers, the internet and automatic systems. Meanwhile, Cambodia still lacks electronic and IT engineers who can do this. That’s why we have been encouraging our young people to study this major at university.
KT: In your own opinion, how could a TV station survive in this modern age, in addition to going digital?
Mr Gunawadh: Many TV stations have their smartphone applications and Facebook page, on which they broadcast their programmes. This feature is an example of how TV stations can adapt to a world dominated by smartphone technology. In addition, they also have to change their content to satisfy the young people, who make up the majority of Cambodia’s population. They have to come up with attractive and creative ideas because young people are always changing, making it hard to keep their attention for long.
Cross Talk: Mr Kem Gunawadh, Secretary of State for Ministry of Information will be on “Digitalization in Cambodia” with Mr Kay Kimsong COO of Khmer Times.
Posted by Khmer Times on Tuesday, 16 July 2019