Mar 31, 2013

Vietnam - Legal struggle fails, ads on buses still banned in HCM City

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VietNamNet Bridge – While posting ads on buses has been very popular in big cities like Hanoi, Hai Phong and Da Nang, the ads on buses still have been prohibited in HCM City for the last 10 years.

Over the last 10 years, ad firms have been trying every possible method and sending petitions to every competent agency to demand for the right to post ad pieces on buses. However, their efforts have been in vain: the HCM City still has not removed the ban on the advertisement on businesses, according to Nguyen Quy Cap, Deputy Chair of the HCM City Advertisement Association.

The ban has deprived ad firms of their business opportunities, while the city’s budget has lost a big source of income.

Prior to 2013, the Ordinance on Advertisement enacted by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on November 16, 2011, was the highest-level legal document in the field. The legal document allowed to post ads on buses as a moveable subject.

The government’s Decree No. 24 issued on March 13, 2003, guiding the implementation of the ordinance, and other ministerial circulars all mentioned the advertisements on buses and the stipulated the fees for the ads.

Since January 1, 2013, the Advertisement Law has been taking effect, replacing the ordinance. The law also stipulates that means of transport are the allowed subjects for posting ads.

In fact, the first ads on buses appeared in HCM City in 1992 already, when there was no detailed regulation on the ads on transport means. However, in 2001, the city’s authorities suddenly decided that ads must not appear on public means of transport, which then stirred up the public.

In 2008, the HCM City Transport Department drafted a project on allowing commercial ads on bus bodies. The city’s authorities then released a new document with some changes with the advertisement procedures. However, the new document did not “pave the way” for posting ads on public means of transport.

In 2010, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism sent a document to the HCM City People’s Committee in 2010, stating that it is illegal to prohibit the ads on public means of transport and requesting the city authorities to settle the problem.

However, only in 2011 did the HCM City People’s Committee accept the request and assign Vision, a joint stock company, to draw up a plan on the exploitation of commercial ads on buses.

However, no further progress has been made in the field over the last two years.

State management agencies have pointed out that there has been no legal foundation for the HCM City to make the decision to prohibit ads on buses. This has also put the subjects in the national economy in an unfair playing field, while having caused a conflict of laws. A regulation could be legal in some places, but is prohibited in other places.

A paradox has been existing in HCM City over the last 10 years, that the buses belonging to HCM City must not have ad pieces on their bodies. However, the buses, also rolling on HCM City streets, but they are put under the control of other localities or the central agencies, can have ad pieces on their bodies.

A report showed that there are 143 bus routes in HCM City and 3,200 operational buses. If noting that a bus can earn VND33-50 million a year from ad pieces, the city budget would get VND120-150 billion a year.


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