Vietnam’s pay-TV association (VNPayTV) has filed a proposal to the Ministry of Information and Communications to increase the minimum subscription fee to at least VND60,000 (US$2.8) a month amid public cries of low quality content.
As a result nearly seven million subscribers of pay-TV nationwide will likely face an increase in prices in the coming time.
Currently the fees for packages of some television stations are just half or two-thirds of the proposed new monthly minimum rate.
However, the association has not discussed the quality of TV programs and the transmission of signals.
Hoang Quan, who lives in the Thai An apartment building in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 12, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper he now pays VND44,000 ($2) a month for the TV fee but often gets a frozen and grainy picture from many channels, such as VTV3.
“I often have to move the antenna to solve the problem,” he said.
Quynh Trang in District 3 said she sometimes has TV channels removed from her package while strange ones are added.
Most TV subscribers complained that they receive numerous channels but can only watch some of them because the rest feature poorly-produced programs which are merely advertisements.
In an interview with Tuoi Tre, Le Dinh Cuong, vice chairman of VNPayTV, said officials from the Ministries of Finance and Justice have agreed that the association should have a common subscription fee for all TV stations.
“Pay-TV should not be sold at a price that is lower than its cost price.
“The application of a 'floor price' is to prevent possible dumping by some service suppliers,” he said.
Cuong added that, “Once the proposed floor price is approved, any subscriber who disagrees with the new rate can sue the Ministry of Information and Communications.”
Le Chi Cong, general director of the K+ channel, explained that some television service providers have pursued unfair competition by offering low subscription fees by adding more channels in a transmitting line.
But this causes problems such as grainy, frozen, lined, tiled, or other distorted pictures, he added.
TV technology expert Ho Phuoc Vinh judged that increasing the floor subscription fee may bring in benefits for a small number of TV suppliers, not for subscribers.
The quality of TV coverage depends on different technical and market factors, thus there should not be a common standard for all suppliers, he noted.
According to VNPayTV, the TV subscription fee in Vietnam is the lowest in Southeast Asia. It averages $32 a month in Singapore, $30 in Malaysia, and $11 in Indonesia and Thailand.