As many as 59 foreign TV channels could stop airing in Vietnam, as under a government order, their content must first be edited and translated, while they lack the license to do so.
Only 16 out of the 75 current pay foreign channels in Vietnam have been issued an editing and translation license . The remaining 59 channels, including Star World, Channel V, CNBC, CNN, and BBC, have not been licensed for editing and translation, meaning their transmission could be halted at any time.
Under the 20/2011/QĐ-TTg instruction passed on March 24 last year and signed by the Prime Minister, any subscription-based foreign channel must be issued the required editing and translating license before November 15, 2012 (last Thursday).
This is to “to ensure the [foreign] content is not in contravention of Vietnamese laws on media and on advertisement, except for live coverage of sport events, and live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies of sporting events at the regional and international levels”.
However, the good news is that the Ministry of Information and Communications has asked Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to extend the deadline. This was confirmed by deputy minister Do Quy Doan at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City last Friday.
The need for the deadline extension arises from the fact that it is almost impossible to edit and translate the news into Vietnamese as it is broadcast live 24 hours a day, as in the case of BBC and CNN.
Many delegates at the conference strongly objected to this regulation, saying news must be up-to-date, and translating it will turn breaking news into old news.
A Vietnamese delegate told the conference that some channels like OPT (Russia) and NHK (Japan) are worried about being requested to halt service. A representative of NHK said that translating and editing all the news is impossible, and even if it could be done, it would cost a huge sum of money.
Nguyen Hanh of Q.net said that even entertainment shows should be broadcast shortly after they take place. “AXN is very fast, for example with The Voice reality show. The speediness helps this channel be popular”.
As for deputy minster Doan, he concluded at the conference that, “our standpoint is to abide by the Prime Minister’s order but we need time to prepare”.
According to official statistics, Vietnam has 4.4 million subscribers of pay TV, which comprises 62 domestic channels and 75 foreign ones.
The foreign channels that have been issued the editing and translating license are mostly recreation and children’s channels: Discovery, Cartoon Network, Animal Planet, HBO, ESPN, Disney channel, Star Sports, Kidsco, Fashion TV, Disney Junior, Star Movies, National Geographic Channel, TV5 Monde Asie, Australia Network, DW, and KBS World.
Meanwhile, the foreign channels that have not been granted such a license include some of the most popular, like Star World, Channel V (music), CNBC (economic news), CNN (news), and the BBC (news).
Under the 20/2011/QĐ-TTg instruction, all foreign pay TV channels must be edited to ensure their content is not in contravention of Vietnamese laws on media and on advertisement, except for live coverage of sport events, and live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies of sporting events at the regional and international levels.
The translation must be carried out as follows:
a) For movie channels, the channel’s content must be translated 100%
b) For news channels, the channel’s content must be translated or loosely translated 100%
c) For science and education channels, their news programs must be translated 100%
d) For general entertainment, sport, and music channels, their news, reportage, and documentary programs must be translated 100%
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