Cambodia gets its very own version of YouTube

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Anita SuRewicz
ASPIRING filmmakers and video artists in Cambodia have faced many challenges over the years, including lack of access to equipment and training, lax enforcement of intellectual property rights, and lack of distribution.

CamboTube addresses the latter problem by using the model of YouTube to create an independent media platform for these artists.

“CamboTube is a poor man’s broadcasting system,” said Jason Rosette, the mastermind behind the video-sharing website and the founder of Camerado, a media company responsible for Cambofest, the only independent film festival in Cambodia.

“The beauty of CamboTube is that people can post virtually anything on it,” Rosette said.

Launched in October 2007, is a dedicated to clips about Cambodia and the region. Users of the website can upload and view film and and video clips, as well as video blogs and amateur short videos.

Rosette describes the site as a “social experiment to see whether people would use it,” with current fare ranging from a clip of a fat monkey eating a coconut to early archival footage of Phnom Penh and a documentary about the importance of protecting Tonle Sap.

“Cambotube is a poor man’s broadcasting system.”

Users can upload clips under a wide variety of categories (or channels) including: general interests (nothing too edgy), social affairs affecting Cambodia; clips dealing with the history of Cambodia; i-reporter (showing news and opinions from Cambodia and the region); videos, news and perspectives regarding the Khmer Rouge trials; and videos by and about indigenous groups in Cambodia.

“People are free to use CamboTube to voice their views,” Rossette said. “Anyone could ask for assistance to make a video – even a person in Mondulkiri involved in a land dispute.”

CamboTube only screens for copyright violations or breaches of legal, moral, or ethical standards, Rosette said, adding that pornographic or revolutionary anti-government material would not make the grade.

“If someone has a strong anti-government sentiment, I would advise them to set up their own portal,” he said.

Through private sector media platforms such as CamboTube and CamboFest that encourage independent participation, Rossette said he hoped to undermine the “culture of patronage” in Cambodia.

Free of patronage
Rosette says  the site will enable people to get their work seen even though it is not sponsored or patronised by a donor with their own agenda.

“Pluralist perspectives [show] society that they don’t have to be led by the hand and that they can operate independently,” Rossette said. “People can express themselves independently, not just under the umbrella of an NGO…. NGOs in fact reduce participation in the private sector.”

He added, “The culture of participation among Khmers and expats in Cambodia isn’t strong. There’s not a lot of sharing of resources. The density of NGOs is warping the culture.”

Camerado has plans to expand CamboTube once the website receives a certain level of interest, although Rosette acknowledges that, until broadband becomes more robust in the country, CamboTube is unlikely to become a huge phenomenon.  But he has long-term plans.

“Once broadband becomes more robust in the country and the site more popular, I am planning to create a weekly walk-in studio for people who don’t know how to use the technology but want to voice their opinions,” Rosette said.

“I want to show the government that Cambodia can have independent media and that people will not necessarily become radical.”

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