Cambodians Love Danish-supported Radio Show

A radio show with the purpose of informing ordinary Cambodians about their legal rights has proven to be an enormous hit in a country, where the mass media is still controlled by the government and where the memories of the genocide wrought by the Khmer Rouge is still fresh.
For three years now, the Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen has helped with the production of the program called “The Road of Law”, which is helping rebuild the democracy in Cambodia. Mette Holm, who has formerly worked as a journalist for the Danish Broadcasting Association (DR), Ritzau news agency, and the TV2 Denmark, has used her experience to play a crucial part in the birth this show, the institute reveals in a recent press release.

According to an evaluation report, which has just been published, the Danish-supported program is “indispensable” in the work to enlighten the Cambodian people about their rights.
Thanks to various elements of the program such as a quiz show, where people can call in and answer questions about their rights, and thanks to a popular drama series, which informs people about the legislation, the listeners’ participation in the program is six times higher today than in 2003.

These numbers are confirmed by an independent evaluation report, which has been published by a Cambodian media specialist and an Australian development expert. The report is based on results from a broad interview research about how Cambodians view the show.
92 pct. of the people who were interviewed – after being selected by sex, age, and geographic location – had listened to the program, and 74 pct. of them had listened to it more than five times.

“The Road of Law” is one of the most popular programs, which is broadcasted by FM 102, and in a country with many analphabetic people and very limited TV-access, the information given is remembered by its receivers.
When the quiz show first started, only 23 pct. of the listeners calling in to the station were capable of giving a correct answer to the questions about legal rights. In 2004 this number had gone up to 55 pct. and in 2006 a total of 88 pct. of the listeners manage to give a right answer.

“The Road of Law” is the result of a close cooperation between the Danish Institute for Human Rights (IMR) and the Women’s Media Centre (WMC), which is a Cambodian NGO using the media to strengthen women’s participation in the democracy. WMC has its own radio station, FM 102, which reaches a large part of the population.
Birgit Lindsnaes, who is the leader of IMR’s international department, is thrilled about the cooperation.
“I am surprised by how professional our cooperative partners are and how brilliantly they have managed to communicate complex information about human rights and legislation. It is impressive considering that so many with a secondary education were killed during the genocide. It gives hope for the future that a country without very many formal educations can carry out such a project,” she says.

Journalist Mette Holm, who is IMR’s advisor on human rights in the media, has helped guide and instructing the production team ever since FM 102 began broadcasting “The Road of Law” in January 2003. According to the evaluation report, Mette Holm’s efforts have been of great importance to the success of the program, and she has enjoyed every bit of it.
“My relationship to WMC and the production team is excellent. They are all dedicated, full of ideas, and very eager. They are extremely inspiring to work with,” says the 52 year-old, experienced reporter.

For more information about the radio program “The Road of Law” go to www.humanrights.dk/news/Cambodia_Radio where you can also find the evaluation report.

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