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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt threatens crackdown on unlicensed TV broadcasts

Govt threatens crackdown on unlicensed TV broadcasts

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Ministry of Commerce sets sights on stations showin illegally obtained programming, says violators face three years’ prison, $2,500 fine

Photo by: Vandy Rattana

The government has targeted broadcasters in an attempt to keep pirated material off the television. Nonetheless, pirated DVDs and CDs remain readily available from retail outlets across Cambodia.

IN an attempt to rescue Cambodia's struggling creative industries from rampant copyright infringement, the Ministry of Commerce has threatened all television stations to respect copyright law and refrain from airing  unlicensed music, karaoke or films, or risk up to three months in jail and a fine of 10 million riels (US$2,500).

"Some television and cable television stations broadcast karaoke and films from illegally copied discs without permission," said Minister Cham Prasidh in a directive signed on March 19. "This is a violation of intellectual property law."

Cham Prasidh wrote that the directive from the ministry aimed to encourage writers and producers to create new things - not to plagiarise - and to promote Cambodia's struggling music and film industries.

Mom Soth, the director of the Phnom Penh department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said Tuesday: "[Piracy] is illegal, and lawbreakers have to be punished, because they are stealing."

"I support the Ministry of Commerce's decision to sign this copyright law, because the owners spend their own money, time and creative capital. We have to respect the producers," he said.

"We are still informing vendors who are copying movies or songs to stop doing that and that they have to respect the owners," he said.

To show the government was serious about the issue, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last week destroyed over 80,000 pirated discs and pornography films, which were sold in markets around Phnom Penh.

"The crackdown was an effort to respect the law and warn plagiarisers," he said.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said it received numerous complaints from artists, which prompted both the commerce minister's warning and the March 26 crackdown.

Glen Felgate, general manager at the Cambodian Television Network (CTN), said Monday that his network has consistently followed Cambodian copyright law and that legally obtained programs were of a superior quality.

The crackdown was an effort to

respect the law and warn plagiarisers.

"Since its launch six years ago, CTN's policy has always been to obtain licences, contracts or permission for everything it broadcasts."

"Obtaining programs legally often improves programming quality because TV channels receive the ‘right' materials with which to work," he said.

"It is relatively easy to spot a pirated program because of the poor picture and sound quality. Often those who pirate a program must create their own natural sound track which has to match the action, and this can be difficult to do," he added.

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