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Foreigner ad ban mulled

A screenshot of an IZE Cola soft drink commercial featuring foreign actors on a local television network.
A screenshot of an IZE Cola soft drink commercial featuring foreign actors on a local television network. Photo supplied

Foreigner ad ban mulled

Cambodia's Information Ministry is planning to ban commercials starring foreign actors, officials said, though local advertisement companies were optimistic yesterday that such a move wouldn’t hurt their businesses.

Ouk Kimseng, spokesman for the ministry, said there was no official directive yet, but Information Minister Khieu Kanharith “suggested that actors and actresses performing in the commercials should be Cambodian”.

“He encouraged Cambodian actors and actresses to be directly involved,” he said.

All advertisements should be produced by local companies and should not have any foreign performers, he added. The move would apply to all TV stations in Cambodia.

Kimseng said there could be a meeting after the Water Festival with broadcasters “to see how they can comply with these kinds of instructions”.

Kanharith yesterday would only say that the proposal was “just a plan”, and declined to comment further.

Jonathan Polakowski, CEO of Brains Communication in Phnom Penh, said that Kanharith was right to push local performers to take part in commercials.

Cambodia is starting to have a “good nest of talents” capable of performing in commercials, he added.

“Cambodia has a growing market today, and many brands are coming in,” he said in an email. “It would be a shame to not create a new industry for the commercials and to not localize it!”

Polakowski said he didn’t believe the potential move would affect his business. However, he added, it wouldn’t be a “smart move” to ban commercials with foreigners outright, as ads needed to be tailored to certain audiences.

Rathany Than, with Cambodia Film Fixers, said for local TV commercials the company already uses local performers, depending on the client’s needs.

“We do have productions which have foreign actors and actresses,” she said, adding that those are typically aired in other countries, not Cambodia.

Meanwhile, Pok Borak, director of the Ministry of Culture’s Cinema Department, said the ministry last week sent a letter to the Cambodian TV Association to consider not broadcasting TV advertisements that affect the “morality” of society and culture in Cambodia.

According to a copy of the letter, the ministry claims it had received complaints from people after they saw commercials from certain companies using sexual innuendo to sell their products.

“The use of those words attracted criticism and the public suggested the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to take measures to end such advertisements,” the letter reads.

Additional reporting by Kong Meta

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