The Ministry of Information has lifted its ban on the broadcast of Thai programs and films that preceded the anti-Thai riots earlier this year, an official said Monday.
“We can’t say anything [related to Thai programming] because we are afraid [the Thais] will accuse us of discrimination,” said Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state of the Ministry of Information. “To broadcast a Thai movie or not is up to the conscience of television station managers.”
Mau Ayut, director of the Cambodian Television Association and general director of TVK, said Monday that station owners would gather to discuss the broadcasting of Thai films.
“I don’t know yet whether to rebroadcast or not,” he said.
The lifting of the ban follows the announcement by Prime Minister Hun Sen over the weekend that Cambodia will immediately forward about $6 million to Thailand for reparations of the damages sustained by the Thai Embassy.
The embassy was looted and torched following anti-Thai demonstrations. A number of other Thai businesses were sacked in the riots that followed the demonstrations, but no reparations have yet been made for those. The Thai-Cambodian border remains closed, officials said Monday.
Members of Cambodia’s film industry said they preferred the ban, which gave more work to actors and producers and also helped differentiate Cambodian and Thai culture.
“I was very happy with the ministry’s [original ban],” said renowned film star Tep Rindaro. “Since all the television stations stopped broadcasting only Thai movies, there have been four movie producers that invited me to perform six stories for them.”
Pov Soeng, manager of Royal Sound Khemarin Cinema said Monday he also preferred the ban.
The Thai government wants to proliferate its own culture through film, he said, adding that sometimes Cambodian audiences preferred the high-budget effects in Thai movies.
“But Cambodians can’t spend much money [on film production] because Cambodia’s population is fewer,” he said.
Had the ban stayed in place, he said, “step by step the Cambodian people would turn back to Cambodian movies.
But Cambodian audiences will eventually come around, said Ly Bun Yim, director of the Cambodian Movie Association.
“This is a good time for movie producers to produce films, because when there are no Thai movies, audiences will watch Cambodian movies,” he said. “I think people still support my movie after I produce it, although there are Thai movies.”
Cambodians are not likely to forget their culture, he said.
(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)