39% of Cambodians are exposed to online media, which presents the Internet as the second most popular media sector in the country.
Internet means Facebook
– or at least this seems to be true for many Cambodians. Amongst the Top 10 most visited websites, Facebook is by far the number one. It is accessed by almost all Internet users. Further most visited websites are google, youtube, yahoo and mainly entertainment focused websites.
Online News Are Not Popular - But People Go Online To Get News
News websites – defined as also or primarily focusing on political and societal news rather than on entertainment - are not popular at all. Among the 120 most visited websites are only 10 news websites. These were the outlets that MOM focused on. On the other hand, people more and more go online when they want to get information on a specific topic.
7 of the online newswebsites are online versions of existing newspapers or radios, showing that online news business models have not yet seduced Cambodian media investors, despite the growing Internet and mobile penetration rates in the country. The other 3 produce their own content. 4 of these websites are owned by people either on the government payroll or affiliated to the ruling party, 3 are foreign owned (postkhmer, RFI and RFA).
Internet Service Providers & Phone Operators
While measuring ownership concentration in the online sector, it is not online important who runs the biggest news websites. Websites and domains are short-lived, they rise and fall. It becomes ever more important to understand who runs “the internet” – who can potentially switch on and off the access to certain websites.
According to the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia, the country counts 31 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) - 2 of them are State-owned - and 7 phone operators. Metfone alone, one of the post popular phone operators in the country, holds 46% of the market, which marks already a medium concentration according to the MOM Indicators.
So far, the internet is, among other media technologies, subjected to the least regulation. However, concerns are growing that the government will restrict access to the internet, an accusation, the government denies. In 2013 civil society groups worried about a draft law against internet crime (Cybercrime Law), which could silence free online speech and allow to install surveillance equipment on the networks of the country’s mobile phone and ISPs.
Their owners, however, are in charge of the technical backbone of the internet. Mobile companies are especially important since most Cambodians access the Internet via their mobile device. In Cambodia, the Royal Group (running the CBS) owns Ezecom and Cellcard, known to be some of the most popular ISP and phone companies in the country.