National broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) has halted the airing of a show for featuring an air route map which misplaced Hanoi in a Chinese province and failed to include Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.
Tran Binh Minh, VTV general director, on Monday afternoon made the decision to suspend its new reality show, “Diep Vu Tuyet Mat,” over the gaffe, which is the broadcaster’s most recent over the past two years.
The local version of Dutch show “Sabotage,” “Diep Vu Tuyet Mat” is the product of a partnership between VTV and Cat Tien Sa, a Vietnamese media company.
The show was scheduled to air at 8:00 pm every Saturday on VTV3, the broadcaster’s entertainment channel.
The 14-episode program features 12 local celebs as its contestants, including overseas Vietnamese model Nathan Lee, Taiwanese-Vietnamese actor Harry Lu, and transgender singer Lam Chi Khanh.
The show sees one of the contestants role-playing as an undercover spy and sharing their time with the 11 others in an apartment in Thailand, where they try to surmount the program’s challenges.
The spy’s “mission” is to sabotage the 11 others’ completion of the challenges by arousing suspicion and sparking conflicts among the housemates and keep them from winning monetary prizes.
If the spy does their job well, the prizes after each challenge will go to them.
12 contestants of “Diep Vu Tuyet Mat." Photo: Tuoi Tre
The contestants are seen surmounting challenges staged in Bangkok, Thailand during the first episode. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Hanoi was put in Guangxi
The spy had yet to have the opportunity to showcase their “destructive power” when the show was marred by a serious blunder committed right in its first episode, which was broadcast on Saturday last week.
The slip was made in an infographic illustration broadcast at the end of the first minute and the onset of the second minute into the show, when its introduction trailer briefed TV viewers on the prizes to be presented to the contestants.
In one of the prizes, each of the show’s four finalists will be given two return tickets provided by Air Asia to Thailand.
The illustration featured an air route map with services from Bangkok to Hanoi and Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City showing Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, placed in Guangxi, China.
The map also failed to include Vietnam’s Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
As observed by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, the episode was still seen on some of VTV’s YouTube channels as of 9:00 am on Monday, but was removed from these as well as the broadcaster’s website shortly after that.
In an interview with Tuoi Tre on Monday morning, Nguyen Quang Minh, general director of Cat Tien Sa – VTV’s partner in producing the show – put the mistake down to their use of an air route map provided by Air Asia.
“The map, which is of token significance only, does not bear toponyms or borderlines. That resulted in an erroneous estimation of Hanoi’s position on the map,” he explained.
Minh added his company rectified the slip-up shortly after that.
In a document sent on Monday afternoon by Air Asia to media agencies regarding the incident, the carrier admitted its fault and put the gaffe down to carelessness.
They also promised to rectify their wrong in short order.
On the same day, the Department of Radio, Television, and Electronic Information under the Ministry of Information and Communications also demanded an explanation from VTV for the gaffe.
Soon after the first episode of “Diep Vu Tuyet Mat” aired on Saturday, many TV viewers and experts voiced complaints that the show was wholly shot in Thailand and the content of its challenges mostly revolves around the history, culture and people of Vietnam’s neighbor.
In mid-March, the Department of Radio, Television, and Electronic Information notified VTV that it would not consider granting certificates of registry to several programs, including “Vietnam Idol” and the local version of “Asia’s Got Talent,” which the television station has co-produced with its partners, who have committed repeated slip-ups in recent times.
This move resulted from a slew of blunders that have been seen on several VTV shows, such as gaffes regarding the verifying process of a reality show, use of culturally inappropriate language and images, and rule violations in running advertisements, the department explained.
According to the Ministry of Information and Communications’ statistics, VTV has made 51 blunders, including serious mistakes, and has been fined over VND100 million (US$4,660) since 2013.
The national broadcaster repeated many blunders last year alone, including the broadcasting of the beheading of a live turtle during a reality show, a suggestive joke in a quiz show, and a “Vietnam’s Got Talent” semifinalist mistakenly drinking acid, among others.
Early last month, the broadcaster was slapped with a fine of VND50 million ($2,330) for airing two episodes of the local version of “Asia’s Got Talent” without a license while it finally secured the permit to broadcast “Vietnam Idol 2015.”