Ministry to Forbid Foreign TV Broadcasts During Prime Time

In its latest attempt to bolster the local entertainment industry, the Ministry of Information on Friday ordered television stations to broadcast only Cambodian-produced content during prime time, giving companies until November 1 to comply.

During a press conference at the ministry, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the country’s 17 local television stations aired too many foreign-made films and shows, and that the “golden time” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.—when most Cambodians tune in to their TV sets—should be reserved for homegrown fare. 

“We are asking all television stations, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., to show only local films and productions, to promote our culture and to promote the Cambodian identity for the sake of our national pride,” he said, explaining that the ban would serve to spotlight the work of Cambodian filmmakers and grow the local industry.

A directive released Friday states that broadcasters have until November 1 to comply with the order and warns that companies that fail to comply will see their licenses revoked.

“If they do not show Cambodian films, they can show [Cambodian] sports programs or Khmer boxing or performances by our actors and actresses,” Mr. Kanharith said.

He added that when he first became information minister in 1993, he attempted to limit foreign programming to 40 percent of all TV content, but that the domestic entertainment industry was too small at the time to make the initiative feasible.

Som Chhaya, deputy director-general of PNN, a TV station launched by ruling-party Senator Ly Yong Phat in July, said the ministry’s latest attempt to promote local content would prove equally untenable, at least for his station.

“What is the quality of Cambodian productions?” he asked rhet­­orically. “And can Cambodia produce enough to show for two hours on every TV station?”

Mr. Chhaya said PNN was locked into a yearlong contract with a Thai TV station to broadcast Thai films during prime time.

“We will request that the Information Ministry allow us to broadcast Cambodian films from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and to broadcast foreign films from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” he said.

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