Category Archives: Vietnam communications

Silencing Foreign Television in Vietnam

Vietnam’s mass communications regulators are risking cutting off their information-obsessed citizens from TV stations CNN, BBC, Discovery, CNBC and others by requiring them to pay for translation of all their programming into Vietnamese.

That may not happen in some cases, and the decree that took effect last week could simultaneously stifle millions in the entrepreneurial Vietnamese workforce from getting information they crave and undermine their passion to learn English.

It may be understandable that the government wants to preserve Vietnamese culture, including the language, but at what cost?  Vietnam government  French broadcaster Canal+ and Vietnam’s national TV broadcaster suspended retransmission of 21 TV channels, and Reporters Without Borders complained the decree is too costly and facilitates censorship.

The simultaneous translation decree applies to four categories: movies, news, educational programs, and entertainment (including sports and music).  Some stations — Cinemax, Fox Sports, and others — have already met the translation requirement and obtained licenses from Vietnam’s information ministry. Sixteen stations have yet to comply, and some probably never will.

Vietnam’s plunge into the 21st Century global economy can be painful for traditionalists.  Even so, for Vietnam’s millions of hungry capitalists, it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

 

 

 

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Free Enterprise (But Not Expression) in Vietnam

Vietnam says 85% of its people will have access to broadband within two years.  What each individual does with that access will determine whether he or she ends up living in luxury or prison.

Government leaders know Vietnam’s continued rapid economic development depends partly on Internet access, but they don’t want citizens challenging authority, government policies or, especially, the one-party system that keeps the current regime in power.

So Vietnam is leap-frogging generations of communications technology, such as skipping fixed-lined infrastructure, and getting the latest smart phones in the homes of remote villagers who only recently got access to electricity.

But anyone who uses state-of-the art technology to bite the hand that feeds them, as bloggers do worldwide, risks the fate of Nguyen Dac Kien, the journalist who was fired last month from a state-run newspaper and threatened with prosecution for criticizing a Communist Party leader on his personal website.

Vietnam faces a big challenge managing the freedoms that the communications revolution has brought.  Vietnam’s economy can’t thrive without technology that facilitates free enterprize — but its one-party system may not survive if the same technology facilitates free expression.