This paper uses recent research from Cambodia to examine how far the country’s news media have developed along the lines of the various models and theories that have been proffered by researchers. During the 1980s, when Cambodia was riven by the Cold War conflict, its Vietnam-allied administration set up a classic “Soviet communist” news media system, in which all publications and broadcasters were part of the government or ruling party. The end of the Cold War brought an end to the Cambodia conflict and to the communist style of government, replacing it with a democratic system. However, for the media, no model was readily available in the new united country. In practice, UN peacekeepers overseeing the country’s election supported openness of the media to provide an outlet for post-conflict hostility while the old government did its best to retain control of the media. With successful elections and a guarantee of press freedom in the 1993 constitution, the press proliferated as never before in Cambodia, with even more freedom than seen in the freest democracies. The broadcast sector was much more tightly controlled by the old government party in a manner that could be described as authoritarian. At the same time, the international community has been influential in promoting media freedom through the provision of facilities and equipment, the training of journalists and the sponsorship of public announcements on health and lifestyle.
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