The HCM City government has banned the issuing or renewal of licenses for advertising billboards on buildings and advertisements on motor vehicles from October 10 in a move that looks certain to make deep inroads into the profits of advertising agencies. Decision 108, which contains the licensing ban, could be interpreted as declaring illegal most outdoor advertising in the city.
“Outdoor advertising has become rampant, and tough measures are needed to correct the situation, “HCM City vice chairman Nguyen Thanh Tai told reporters on October 3. Of course, the new regulations are on top of those in the Advertising Ordinance effective since May this year. Tai explained that the HCM City government had needed to bring out special rules to restore order and the city’s appearance although some regulations in Decision 108 went against the ordinance. “We believe we have the right to use appropriate management. Sure the ban will affect several advertising agencies, but it was issued in the interests of society,” Tai said.
In addition to the building-placement ban, no license will be given for a billboard near a historical monument, temple, pagoda, bridge side, intersection, roundabout, hospital or school, or anywhere in the heart of the city. Advertising panels and billboards which could threaten road safety or mar the general cityscape are also outlawed, while billboards of more than 12 square meters planned for permissible areas require a license from the Construction Service.
Also banned from October 10 is the distribution of flyers and leaflets in the streets. These may only be handed out in showrooms and stores while panels, umbrellas and other advertisement holders are only allowed in shopping centers and at fairs and exhibitions. City Chairman Le Thanh Hai told the assembled reporters that the authorities would be very strict about monitoring outdoor advertising and would gradually do away with any related activity that marred the cityscape.
Hai said advertising companies would be forced to remove the billboards upon license expiry, adding that he fully supported the use of electronic billboards and encouraged advertising agencies to employ these. As for the ban on vehicle-mounted advertisements, that does not apply to commercial vehicles or those from outside HCM City.
Unsurprisingly, the HCMC Advertising Association is not the least bit pleased and will lodge a formal request for the ban to be rescinded. “More than 90% of the billboards in HCMC will have to go if our members abide by the new rule,” association chairman Nguyen Quy Cap said at a meeting yesterday between the HCM City Commercial and Industrial Association and HCMC Party Secretary Nguyen Minh Triet.