Amendments are needed for the Law on the Press to better reflect the current status of Vietnam's media.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has backed amendments to the Law on the Press that would bring it into line with today’s constantly changing high-tech media landscape and ensure the law’s effectiveness in the long term.
Amendments would facilitate policy making and safeguard citizens’ legal rights, the Deputy PM told a conference in Hanoi on November 12 reviewing the 15 since the Law on the Press was last amended and discussing draft amendments. He previously tasked the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and responsible agencies with collecting public feedback in order to refine the draft amendments, which are expected to be submitted to the National Assembly in October next year for approval.
Stakeholders suggested the law include the roles and responsibilities of media outlets and State management agencies, the duty of government departments and agencies to provide information and support for the media, and copyright regulations. Some proposed more stringent rules on granting licenses for media activities.
According to MIC, as at December 31, 2013, Vietnam was home to 838 media outlets, with more than 1,100 publications, 90 online newspapers, 207 news websites, 67 radio and television stations, and 33 cable television providers.
In the 15 years since the law was last amended, Vietnamese journalism has developed quickly in terms of the number of publications, radio and TV stations, and online newspapers. Participants at the Hanoi conference also discussed operational models, personnel, and economic activities in the journalism sector. They said that amendments to the Law should include regulations to raise social responsibility and the tasks of press agencies and journalists. It is essential, many believe, to have certain amendments to the Law to enhance the efficiency of State management and assure stability in journalism activities.
Many Editors-In-Chief recommended reducing the corporate income tax rate imposed on online newspapers to 0 per cent, lower than the tax on printed newspapers, given the difficulties and competitiveness in the new media space. According to Mr. Nguyen Dinh Chuc, Deputy Editor-In-Chief of the Labor newspaper (Lao Dong), revenue for newspapers comes from advertising and distribution and these are declining due to the economic uncertainties. He proposed the amended law expand types of revenue available to support media organizations.
Major General Pham Van Mien, Editor-In-Chief of the People’s Public Security newspaper (Cong An Nhan Dan) said that input costs have been increasing while revenue has been decreasing. The government and relevant agencies need to consider supportive measures for the business activities of the media organizations. According to Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Editor-In-Chief of the Vietnam Investment Review, there should be comprehensive evaluations of financial mechanisms at media organizations. Financial issues need to be addressed within the amended law.
The Law on the Press was passed by the 8th National Assembly, Session 6, on December 28, 1989, and signed by the President on January 2, 1990. On June 12, 1999, at its 5th session, the 10th National Assembly passed amendments that supplemented certain articles of the Law.
In the 15 years since the Law was last amended, journalism in Vietnam has grown rapidly both in number of publications and radio and television stations, types and quality of information, human resources, and economic issues. Statistics at the end of 2013 showed there were 838 printed agencies with 1,111 publications (199 printed newspapers and 639 magazines) with circulation of more than 650 million annually, as well as 90 electronic media, 207 pages of electronic information synthesized from press agencies, and 67 radio and television stations.