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Vietnam asks smart TV manufacturers to disable Netflix access

Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 20:00 GMT+7
Vietnam asks smart TV manufacturers to disable Netflix access
The Netflix logo is pictured on a television remote in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas, California, U.S., January 18, 2017. Photo: Reuters

The Vietnamese broadcasting watchdog has asked TV manufacturers to disable access to Netflix on their smart TVs, accusing the streaming service of failing to comply with regulations on content management.

The California-based company has not completed procedures necessary to acquire a license for providing paid Internet television services in Vietnam, the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) under the Ministry of Information and Communications said in a recent statement.

Netflix, which entered Vietnam in 2016 as part of a major global expansion, had nearly 340,000 subscribers in the Southeast Asian country as of June 2019, according to a Comparitech report.

According to ABEI, many smart TVs sold in Vietnam now have the Netflix app installed on their operating system as a factory default.

TV manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Sony and TCL even include a ‘Netflix’ shortcut on their remote controls, which allows users to open the Netflix app quickly with a press of the button, ABEI said.

By doing so, the four major TV brands, which produce a combined two million smart TVs for the Vietnamese market every year, have inadvertently advertised a service which “has not complied with Vietnamese laws on editing and translating foreign content,” ABEI said in its statement.

The broadcasting watchdog therefore asked that these smart TV manufacturers disable access to Netflix on their products, as well as review the legality of other similar services available on such smart devices.

Representatives from all four TV brands have said they would comply with the request.

Netflix is an American subscription-based streaming service which allows subscribers to stream from a massive library of films and television programs, including those produced in-house.

As of July 2019, Netflix had over 151 million paid subscriptions worldwide, including more than 60 million in the United States, according to a letter sent to its shareholders on July 17.

In Vietnam, the Basic plan costs VND180,000 (US$8) a month, whereas the Standard and Premium packages - which unlock HD and Ultra HD content as well as allow members to stream from more than one device at the same time - fetch VND220,000 ($10) and VND260,000 ($12), respectively, according to subscription plans listed on its website.

Vietnamese subtitles are available for a range of movies and programs on Netflix.

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