by Minh Chau
Years after graduation, I made a phone call to an old friend to ask about his job. My ears and face turned red when I heard a female voice laughing in my ear saying "current mobile subscribers are being overlapped by others, please leave a message". While it was funny, I doubted that my friend had become as coarse as that. Within 15 minutes he called back, saying he had set up the tone for callers to listen to while they wait. Just for fun!
Young people all over Viet Nam often set up their phones with call-tone capabilities such as songs, which play until calls are answered or voicemail is activated.
However, due to slack industry management, call-phone tones are getting out of hand.
In addition to positive call tones, many are often "dirty". Apart from the main mobile network sites, there are countless web pages springing up to provide call-tone or ring-tone services such as nhaccho.vn, 24hsms.vn and nhacchuong24h.com.vn.
While young people are often more adventurous, many callers dislike being forced to listen to nhac che (songs with distorted lyrics) and crude words which phone owners might think funny.
Bui Phuong Hoa, 23, a student at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Viet Nam National University in Ha Noi, said she had exchanged numbers with a man who had given up his seat for her on a bus. After running into him a couple more times, she decided to ask him out on a date. When she called him however, his call-tone said, "Come to me, come to me, I am sexy. I like nudes!" She immediately hung up and broke off all contact with him.
Pham Van Dung, a resident of HCM City's District 3, said, "I have been a Vinaphone customer for three years. My phone is usually set up with my favourite song. Accessing the network site, I am often shocked at the type of call- and ring-tones on offer.
Authorities should issue policies based on proper music management and business services to better ensure quality. Mobile network companies should also align their services with culture instead of profit alone, Dung suggested.
Clearly, call-tones can throw everybody off guard, often inciting disoriented callers to leave less than friendly messages. First-time callers might be put off all together.
Not all call-tones are bad news obviously, with some capable of putting real smiles on people's faces.
Producing songs with altered content should be controlled by authorities. With prices of VND3,000 (14 US cents) per direct download and VND5,000 (24 cents) indirect, call-tone services have generated considerable revenues.
Composer Hoai An, talking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, said "Some nhac che ring-tones are quite funny, however, most contain negative content, reflecting cultural degradation.
Talking about the problem, Director of Broadcasting & Electronic Information Luu Vu Hai said authorities have looked seriously at the issue and are busy implementing measures aimed to better control call-tone services. — VNS