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Pirated vidoes spike local artists

Pirated vidoes spike local artists

IM Sovann Phola was a successful movie star, but now she

makes a living serving noodles at a Phnom Penh

restaurant.

The 29-year-old single mother said she was forced to take

on her current job following a slump in the local

entertainment industry which is being blamed on imported

and pirated material and an apparent indifference by

authorities to the problem.

"I enjoyed acting and I still want to perform, but

my income just kept falling. Working in my restaurant

means I can provide for my son, my mother and my brothers

and sisters," she said.

Eng Chhay Nguon, director of Cambodia's largest producer

of video karaoke and audio tapes, said it was ironic that

music and video with a local flavour may soon be enjoyed

only by expatriate Khmers.

He said his company was still achieving strong sales to

Khmers living in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia,

but that worsening economic conditions, cheap imports and

piracy of the local product was undermining Cambodia's

entertainment industry.

"The strength of overseas influence is having a

great impact on our culture. The sentimental songs

Cambodians enjoyed before are being replaced by pop music

which reflects little of Cambodian traditions,"

Nguon said. "On top of that, imports are easily

smuggled into Cambodia and sell cheaply. There are many

talented artists here, but pirating of my products

undermines this company's ability to support them."

Nguon said despite numerous protests to authorities about

copyright infringements of his product, little had been

done to address the problem and pirated copies were

openly available in many of the country's markets.

He said local video production was also suffering because

of the lack of a coherent broadcast policy which had

allowed a proliferation of cable TV providers and a

doubling of television stations from three to six since

1995.

"As a result video sales are down. Local

broadcasters play a lot of imported material like pop

music and drama programmes.

"We can only respond by keeping our technical

standards very high and our prices very low," he

said.

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