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OSC Media Aid: Vietnamese Media at a Glance
SEF20090115463002 Vietnam — OSC Media Aid in English 15 Jan 09
All Vietnamese media outlets are state-owned and subject to strict party and state control, and journalists continue to be intimidated and imprisoned for critical commentary and zealous reporting. In response to market reforms, however, some segments of the media have begun to air sensitive issues such as political corruption, at least by lower- and mid-ranking officials. Internet use is increasing and provides a forum for political debate between dissident bloggers and official censors.
Of Vietnam’s 86 million people, 52% rely most on television for their news, while 29% turn to newspapers (“Where Vietnamese Get Their News,” Office of Research, State Department, 30 September 2008). Some 24% have Internet access (Vietnam Internet Center, Ministry of Information and Communications, 15 December 2008).
Central and provincial government-run television stations produce the official version of events but — no doubt in part because of their dependence on commercial revenue — also produce investigative reports on wrongdoing by public servants. In Hanoi, VTV-1 is the most popular source of national news and general information, while HTV-7 and HTV-9 are the most popular in Ho Chi Minh City and other parts of the south. Some cable TV packages include foreign news channels, but few Vietnamese understand enough English to watch.
Authoritative central print media have a far smaller audience than state television. Party official daily Nhan Dan and Army daily Quan Doi Nhan Dan are hard to find at newsstands and trail far behind top-selling Tuoi Tre (published by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union) and Thanh Nien (published by the Vietnam Allied Youth Association, also in Ho Chi Minh City). Unlike the central press, these papers are self-supporting, and their aggressive reporting on corruption and human rights issues sometimes brings them into conflict with Hanoi.
Vietnam has an estimated 1.1 million bloggers on the Internet (Le Doan Hop, minister of information and communications, VietnamNet, 13 August 2008). With the number of blogs criticizing the government and discussing political reform growing quickly since late 2007, the government is now trying to catch up and bring blog writers under control. Many newspapers have an Internet presence, and VNExpress and VietnamNet are considered Vietnam’s most popular news portals.