BY SOY SOPHEA
“It is boring to watch and of little value! They are not qualified to speak to the audience,” said a 45-year-old consumer of Cambodian television entertainment as he walked away from his wife, who was just about to indulge in a bit of English language channel surfing.
Meng Chamroeun, who lives in Daun Penh district, Phnom Penh, said that he rarely enjoyed watching TV when he stayed at home even though the shows are live. His viewing habits tend towards cable movie channels instead of domestically produced fashion or music shows. He identified the presenters’ communication skills as the main reason why he turned off.
“Those presenters think their poor performances are excused when they ask for “forgiveness” at the end of the show,” Chamroeun said. He added that they would benefit from audience feedback and factoring that into measures taken to improve their public speaking skills.
Sen Davy, a 22- year-old student also criticized radio DJs, who create an impression of being poorly educated. She suspected the presenters had been given carte blanche by their produces to say whatever they liked, as long as it generated a cheap laugh.
Chuch Phoeurn, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Fines Arts, admitted that TV and radio commentator’s sometimes get it wrong. He said that some were simply unqualified to present themselves as social commentators.
Kith Vicheth, 40, found scope to criticize media personalities for their lack of understanding of the Khmer language and culture. He insisted that those who were commentators and those who wanted to make a career in broadcasting should learn as much as they can about Khmer culture, literacy and customs. They would also do well to be acquainted with the mores of other cultures as well.
He also suggested that commentators should dress properly, avoiding immodest and revealing clothing when on air. He believed that what he considered to be impropriety had never been a part of Cambodian culture and should not be imported, riding on the coat tails of globalization.
Eang Sithol, President of the Cambodia Arts Association, also recognized that some television and radio commentators could improve their speaking skills. He too agreed that a little more knowledge of Cambodian culture would go a long way to improve the service offered.
His association has issued a recommendation letter to remind not only commentators but other performing artists to be mindful of their communication skills. He recognized that whatever commentators say will affect the public, especially the younger generations who have yet to develop the necessary critical discernment. He too saw listening to audience feedback as essential to improving the service.
A CTN (Cambodian Television Network) fashion commentator Khieu Sansana believed that some Cambodian presenters did not have the appropriate experience, qualifications or background to become truly professional commentators. She recommended reading as a way to enhance their performance.
Sansana said that although she graduated with a bachelor decree in journalism and despite her five years of experience, she is always concerned for the effect her words have on the public. Unlike some of her colleagues, she also made very good use of feedback, talking to friends, family and more importantly, members of the audience to gauge how well her performances are received.
She said that commentators should be a well-educated, as well as being easy on the eye. She admitted that neither she, nor any of her colleagues received formal training in effective presentations for the television. She put her success down to natural talent and her study background.
Phok Sophanith, a presenter with15-years of experience in TV and radio, said that while Cambodia has as yet no formal training program for television commentators, the best thing an aspiring TV personality could do was learn at school or university, improve their knowledge and develop their confidence in speaking.
The Secretary of State, Chuch Phoeurn said that although the government has inserted Khmer culture lessons into public schools, it will take time to restore Cambodian culture and customs to their pre civil war glory. In his opinion, “The best way to restore our culture is to educate people.”
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