Most of Vietnam’s 90 million citizens still hear regular broadcasts on the half-century-old national public address system created to alert people about US bombing raids. Today’s broadcasts include such mundane messages as reminders to vote as well as health and environmental concerns such as the need to get vaccinated and keep the streets clean.
Some people consider the system noise pollution because announcements typically start as early as 6:30 in the morning, but many tune it out as white noise — partly because they are already plugged into the Internet and smart phones.
The government says the old-fashion system is needed to give information to ordinary workers in a poor country that cannot afford more sophisticated communications systems at this time. Some international critics contend loudspeakers are a tool of a surveillance-heavy state that films demonstrations, closes sensitive court trials, taps telephones, and controls the mass media — earning a relatively low press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders.
More on Vietnam’s mass communication