As many as 56 foreign TV channels could stop airing in Vietnam as under a government order, their contents must be edited and translated first while they all lack such a license for the purpose.
Only 16 out of the 75 current pay foreign channels in Vietnam have been issued an editing and translation license. The remaining 56 channels including Star World, Channel V, CNBC, CNN, and BBC have not been licensed for editing and translation, meaning they could be halted any time.
Under the 20/2011/QĐ-TTg instruction passed on March 24 last year signed by the Prime Minister, any subscription-based foreign channel must be issued the required editing and translating license before November 15, 2012 (Thursday last week).
This is to “to ensure the [foreign] contents are not in contravention of Vietnamese laws on media and on advertisement, except for live coverage of sport events, live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies of sporting events at the regional and international levels”.
However, the good news is 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 24/24 as in the case of BBC, CNN …
Many delegates at the conference strongly objected to this regulation, saying news must be hot and translating it will turn the hot news into old ones.
A Vietnamese delegate told the conference that some channels like OPT (Russia) and NHK (Japan) are worried of 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 for entertainment shows, it should be broadcast shortly after it happened. “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 “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 that comprises 62 domestic channels and 75 foreign ones.
Foreign channels that have been issued the editing and translating license mostly are recreation and children 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, Autralia Network, DW, 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), BBC (news)...
The translation must be carried out as follows:
a) For movie channels, the channel contents must be translated 100%
b) For news channels, the channel contents must be translated or loosely translated 100%
c) For science, education channels, the news programs must be translated 100%
d) For general entertainment, sport, music channels, their news, reportage, and documentary programs must be translated 100%