Recently, some actors or film stakeholders have been taken aback when the Ministry of Information (Cambodia) has agreed for local TV channels to broadcast Thai content. I’d say I support this return of Thai drama series to Cambodia, for three reasons, with three conditions.
First, as Cambodia is a free economy, banning Thai films from coming to Cambodia will even sabotage our national image and revenues. Apart from films, Cambodia is partly economically dependent on Thailand in other aspects.
Second, the “temporary” blocking was actually caused by a minority of conservative people. I understand that that Thai star may have spoiled our history. Yet, her case was so individual that we could even have only asked her to apologize in public or media. As a result, I could see that the majority of Cambodian people have kept watching Thai drama series on DVD or Internet. So people will always look for quality content, no matter where it comes from or what it takes them.
Third, in terms of arts, we should be open enough to learn from our Thai or foreign counterparts. Of course, “learning” here doesn’t mean “blindly copying”. It just refers to “using their best practices with our original content”. Competition makes us stronger and eve more creative. It’s pointless to support mediocre products just for the sake of nationalism. Instead, our Cambodian fellows should find more ways to break through the barriers of our local audience. At the moment, I can see the local content is bouncing back. So worrying (too much) about other people’s won’t help us move forwards.
Still, there are three conditions that I think Ministry of Information (or even other stakeholders) can apply to help. On one hand, local “quality” content should be prioritized or encouraged on Cambodian TV channels. On the other, you can make it hard for Thai TV series to penetrate the Cambodian market with more taxes or dubbing quota. I knew these have been applied in some countries already. Also, sponsors of Cambodian TV series can enjoy special discounts from Cambodian channels. Which means if the same companies sponsor Thai or foreign series, they will pay 100% rates.
I know these conditions may have some flaws and I’m willing to receive your feedback. Meanwhile, my collective Kon Khmer Koun Khmer is planning to distribute short films to TV.