Reporters Without Borders protested today against the ruling Communist Party’s ban on people watching foreign TV programmes beamed in by satellite and called on the government to drop the measure.
"Last week, the regime stressed it would keep the local media under tight control and now it forbids the Vietnamese people from hearing any criticism coming from abroad," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to prime minister Phan Van Khai.
Under the ban, issued last week, only members of the government and the party, and provincial governors and mayors can see foreign TV programmes. According to Associated Press, foreign media and news agencies operating in Vietnam, as well as international hotels, are also allowed to have satellite receivers. Anyone wanting to import such equipment must get permission from the ministry of trade.
The ban came soon after articles appeared in the government-controlled press denouncing the "harmful" nature of some foreign TV programmes. Last week, the head of the party’s culture and ideological commission, Nguyen Khoa Diem, said "the media must execute the principle of observing the party’s leadership".