HCM CITY — With the cultural authority making translation of foreign-language content into Vietnamese compulsory for television channels from next May, audiences can look forward to viewing more foreign programmes.
But the flip side is it will cost the channels money to translate and edit the content, meaning subscription fees may rise.
"The language barrier has hindered us from understanding many well-known foreign films on popular international channels like HBO, Max and Star Movie", says Nguyen Thi Hoa, a student at HCM City's Open University.
In 2005 HBO became the first foreign channel on pay TV to have Vietnamese subtitles for its films. It was followed a year later by several channels like Max, Disney and Star Movies.
The three film channels, HBO, Max and Star Movies, now have subtitles for 18 to 20 hours of broadcast time daily.
Other foreign channels have for just one or two hours a day, says Q.Net Co, the distributor of 13 international channels in Viet Nam.
Long Vu, director of the VTV Cable Editorial Board, says: "The regulation which aims at ‘Vietnamisation' of foreign programmes is necessary and will benefit viewers."
But requiring all feature films, music shows, and news reports on cable TV to be translated and edited means more expenditure for TV stations.
Nguyen Sao Mai of cable TV network K+ says: "We must spend for translation and editing."
Some executives at foreign channels in Viet Nam say this could cost them US$1.5-2 million a year.
There are more than 2.5 million cable TV subscribers in the country and many welcome the new policy.
But Truong Thi Que, a HCM City resident who now pays VND88,000 a month for cable TV, says: "We hope cable TV providers will not increase the fee." — VNS