IM Sovann Phola was a successful movie star, but now she
makes a living serving noodles at a Phnom Penh
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
"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
"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