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Pay-TV giants sometimes unfair

Update: September, 11/2013 - 08:44

A Vietnam Television booth at the Vietnam International Exhibition on Film and Television Technology organised recently in Ha Noi. At the beginning of 2013, pay TV had a coverage of 95 per cent of the country with six million high-use subscribers on mobile and Internet TV. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Tu

HA NOI  (VNS) — Unfair competition will give more influence to enterprises in the pay TV market and harm the rights of consumers, said Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Competition Management Department, Nguyen Phuong Nam.

Nam was voicing his opinion at a conference in Ha Noi on Tuesday, which discussed the Law on Competition that was put into force on July 1 in 2005.

The Law requires pay TV providers to lodge registrations with the Competition Management Department by a due date soon.

The deputy director said that only eight firms had registered with the department out of more than 40 enterprises operating in the industry; adding that the department had issued proposals to six other businesses. At the moment, there are five categories of businesses operating in Viet Nam's pay TV market, including those providing television content; enterprises representing foreign channels; editing and translating channels; pay TV providers and enterprises providing pay TV subscribers.

According to departmental statistics, in 2012 Saigontourist Cable Television Company (SCTV) topped the market with a 40 per cent of market share.

Viet Nam Cable Television (VTVCab) and HCM City Cable Television (HTVC) were the second and third largest providers with 30 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

Tran Phuong Lan, head of the department's Competition Supervision and Management Committee, said the fiercest competition was in buying broadcast rights.

"Market share is mostly is in the hands of state enterprises or member companies of central TV stations. The unequal share between the top firm and following enterprises has increased remarkably," she said.

"The leading firm in the market is SCTV, with 40 percent. Meanwhile, Viet Nam Television (VTV) owns or contributes capital to a lot of firms, which results in a large market share - up to 70 per cent."

However, in accordance with the current competition Law, enterprises owning 30 per cent or more are considered a monopoly and deemed to possess undue influence in the market.

Lan said unfair competition in the Vietnamese market could take various forms, including the use of self-made channels to undermine competitors; abusing market power to coerce content providers in contract negotiations; and contracting with residential investors to provide exclusive cable services.

Attending the conference, Vietnam Pay TV Association vice chairman Le Dinh Cuong said that pay TV providers were now competing in customer care service.

"Improving infrastructure and developing transmission technology plays an important role in offering customers high-quality signal," he added.

"High demand for first-class entertainment programmes, copyrights on foreign movie channels and international tournaments have been becoming a driving force in promoting competition among pay TV providers in Viet Nam," he said.

The association's statistics show that at the beginning of 2013, pay TV had a coverage of 95 per cent of the country with six million high-use subscribers on mobile and Internet TV. — VNS

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