Companies skirt alcohol advert ban

Jan 15, 2010 (DVB), Alcohol companies in Burma are using alternative methods to advertise their products after the government slapped a ban on alcohol commercials in the print and broadcast media.

More adverts have reportedly been appearing on buses around Burma's major towns since the ban, which included a block on cigarette commercials, came into force at the beginning of this year.

Meanwhile, alcohol companies are keeping exposure to their brand names high by producing non-alcoholic products.

"Now the producer of Grand Royal Whisky has introduced their new product, Grand Royal drinking water," offered one Rangoon-based journal editor as an example.

Another journalist told DVB that Burma's notoriously strict junta-controlled censor boards had banned some news reports of the rise in alternative advertising.

The majority of print publications in Burma had previously relied on the adverts as a key source of revenue, and predicted heavy losses once the ban came into place.

The three biggest advertisers before the ban had been Myanmar Brewery Ltd, International Beverages Trading Co., Ltd and Peace Myanmar Group Co., Ltd, which produce Myanmar Whiskey and Myanmar Rum.

Each news journal could command up to 600,000 kyat ($US600) for a one-page advertisement from these companies, and a journal publisher said that the ban had consequently caused a big drop in income.

Advertisements for alcohol and cigarettes are already banned on billboards and television in Burma which, like most media, is heavily controlled by the government.

There are nearly 200 official magazines and newspapers circulating inside the country, all of which are registered to the censor board, while all but one television station is wholly owned by the government.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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