Streaming in High Definition: The Guide to Paid TV Compliance in Vietnam
By: Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Anais Robin
With internet penetration increasing annually by 10 percent, opportunities abound for internet based services within the Vietnamese market. Entertainment, and paid access to streaming video content in particular, is well positioned to gain traction within a market characterized by low levels of provider competition and high access to low cost mobile media consumption devices.
However, just as Vietnam’s consumer base is increasing rapidly, so too are the tools with which it regulates these industries. As companies as large as Netflix continue to face compliance issues, the importance of careful due diligence cannot be overstated.
In following article, Vietnam Briefing outlines laws, guidance, and issues of compliance surrounding the provision of streaming video services within Vietnam. Any questions that may arise should be directed to relevant government officials or qualified investment professionals to ensure compliance.
Treatment of Paid TV Content
In Vietnam, media and broadcasting activities are considered sensitive sectors and thus the scope of foreign participation within these industries faces limitations. Before movies or television programming can be shown within Vietnam, each must pass stringent regulations concerning TV program content, editing, and translation.
Vietnam will strictly control pay-TV program content in accordance with laws on press management and manage pay-TV technical infrastructure in accordance with laws on telecommunication management.
Recent announcements by government officials indicate that paid TV content – including streaming services – will be subject to regulation in the same manner as traditionally broadcast television content. As a result, investors within these industries should pay close attention to relevant legislation to ensure compliance and safeguard returns.
Relevant Legislation: Decision No. 20/2011/QD-TTG
Decision No 20/ 2011/ QD-TTG, effective from May 15, 2011 promulgates the regulations on management of paid television.
Replacing Decision No.79/2002/QD-TTG of the Prime Minister on the management of foreign television programs, Decision 20/2011 stipulates management, provision, and use of infrastructure for paid television services and contents of information on paid television in Vietnam. Also stipulated within this decision are the specifics for receiving direct signals from satellites.
Rights and Obligations of Paid Television Service Providers
The law of Vietnam permits foreign firms to collaborate with Vietnamese counterparts to provide pay-TV services providing that they satisfy the following:
- Compliance with law provisions on content, supply of paid television services, service rate management, fees, charges and with provisions in the granted license of a given paid television service supplier.
- Firms must take every measures to cut violate provisions of Vietnam laws
- Firms must take the initiative to choose legitimate paid television program channels and to choose network infrastructure to supply paid television service.
- Compliance with relevant inspections carried out by competent agencies outlined under relevant provisions of law.
- Firms must otherwise abide by regulations that other businesses are subject to within Vietnam.
Note: Streaming Services, while providing content from outside of Vietnam in many cases, may still find themselves in noncompliance if they fail to apply for business licenses required of traditional TV providers.
Requirements of Foreign Program Channels on Paid Television
Paid television service provider supplying foreign paid television programming in Vietnam must ensure that all content distributed within Vietnam meets the following requirements:
- Content must be suitable to people’s wholesome demand while not violating of provisions of laws on press of Vietnam.
- All content must be supported by documents evidencing legitimate copyright by competent agencies of the country in which the foreign television station’s own program channel registering for operation.
- Content supplier must have acquired a registration certificate for the supply of a foreign program channel on paid television
- Content must be be edited, translated by a unit granted a license for editing a foreign program channel
- Content must be provided without advertisement information from overseas. Advertising activities must be conducted in Vietnam and comply with provisions of Vietnam law on advertisement.
Registration & Compliance for Foreign Program Channels on Paid Television
Step 1 – Registration
All foreign program channels sold through paid TV services within Vietnam are subject to registration through the Ministry of Information and Communications and must comply with the following documentation guidelines to be successfully distributed within Vietnam:
- Application for the registration of supplying foreign program channels
- A copy of the operation License of any and all foreign radio or television stations that are owned by the foreign program channel in question.
- Documents evidencing legitimate ownership
- A copy of business registration Certificate, investment License of authorized Agencies.
- A copy of certifying paper of foreign television channel owner
- Description document on contents of program channel
Note: Registration certificate is valid 5 years, since the signing date.
Step 2 – Editing
Decision No. 20/2011 says that all foreign channels on pay TV in Vietnam have to be edited to ensure there is no content that violates Vietnam’s press and advertisements laws.
All paid TV content that is to be edited for broadcast within Vietnam must be granted a license in order for editing to be carried out in a manner compliant with vietnamese law.
Step 3 – Translation
Translation must be completed in varying degrees by all foreign program channels that are to be broadcast within Vietnam. For education, science channels and collective channels 100% of the contents of program channel have to be translated.
Translation of content can often prove to be time consuming, expensive, and at times divisive as all translations must be conducted in a manner compliant with Vietnamese laws. In order to ensure that this task is carried out in compliance with current legislation, companies considering the distribution of content currently not available within Vietnam should be sure to contact government officials or professional investment services.
Breach and Penalties Non-compliance
In the case of a breach of the requirements laid out above, organizations may be administratively sanctioned, face the revocation of licenses or be examined for penal liability. If the breach in question is found to have created damages, investors may find themselves subject to fines and other liabilities associated with the breach in question.
In the case of streaming content that may not have an established presence within Vietnam – and therefore find itself beyond the reach of monetary penalties – authorities have indicated non-compliance will be met with technical sanctions preventing content from being accessed through IP addresses originating within Vietnam. This will in effect prevent the distribution of services to the average Vietnamese consumer.
Further Support from Dezan Shira & Associates
Corporate establishment and compliance can prove a complex and challenging procedure, especially in a country with such a varied legal and bureaucratic system, such as Vietnam. With decades of experience helping companies set up business operations in the region, the specialists at Dezan Shira & Associates are well placed to help companies overcome these challenges. For more information, please get in touch with our specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email email@example.com or visit www.dezshira.com.
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