On June 30, 2023, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) issued Circular No. 06/2003/TT-BTTTT to provide implementing guidelines for Decree 71 on editing, ratings, and warnings for video on demand (VOD) sports and entertainment content provided over radio and TV services. Circular 06 will take effect on August 15, 2023.
Because Decree 71 allows VOD providers to self-edit and self-rate this type of content, it is important for them to know how the process is regulated in order to fully comply before providing VOD sports and entertainment programs to Vietnamese users.
Under Circular 06, radio and TV service providers are required to display ratings and warnings on their programs, following the principles set out in the circular. These service providers must also compile dossiers in a stipulated form on the editing, ratings, and warnings of their programs for reporting to the authority and inspection.
The main contents of Circular 06 are as follows.
1. Content Editing
The main principles for editing VOD sports and entertainment programs include:
- Protection of children and other vulnerable people from inappropriate or potentially harmful content.
- Removal of all illegal/prohibited content, as well as content related to controversial issues or issues not recognized by Vietnamese law.
- Removal of content or dialogue that disparages the origins of others or makes fun of others’ physical weaknesses, and content that is contrary to Vietnamese culture, morality and fine customs and traditions;
- Removal of programs if it is discovered during the editing process that in the program or at the venue of the event, there are images or activities violating the prohibitions of the law, violating Vietnamese fine customs and traditions, or containing sensitive political elements.
In addition to compliance with the above-mentioned principles, sports and entertainment programs related to health, education, and online gaming must additionally meet the requirements of relevant specialized laws.
2. Content Ratings
Under Circular 06, the principles for rating of programs are based on the manner of expression; specific situations and contexts; interactivity; frequency; duration; level of detail of images, sound, lighting, and dialogue; and the level of impact of the program on the audience, in which the importance of the context and the level of impact on the audience are priority factors in rating of the programs.
The factors for rating programs include topic and content; violence; nudity and sex; drugs, stimulants and addictive substances; horror; vulgar images, sounds, and language; and dangerous behavior that is easy to imitate.
Programs are rated at a lower level when:
- The program content is depicted verbally rather than visually; or
- The images and words of the program have a low impact on the audience.
Programs are rated at a more stringent level when the program content:
- Contains more details, including close-ups and slow motion;
- Uses highlighting techniques such as lighting, perspective, and resolution;
- Uses special effects such as light, sound, noise, resolution, color, image size, characteristics, and tones;
- Is realistic instead of stylized; and
- Encourages interaction.
There are six categories of program rating, based on the age range of the audience the program is eligible to be disseminated to:
- P rated: All ages
- K rated: Under 13 years old, provided that they are with their parents or guardians
- T13 rated (13+): From 13 years old or older
- T16 rated (16+): From 16 years old or older
- T18 rated (18+): From 18 years old or older
- C rated: Prohibited from dissemination on TV services
For programs at the borderline between levels, if the program has a way of handling situation and results which sends a message of education, humanity, praise of moral and social values, and/or has a positive impact on the audience, it will be considered to be rated at a lower level.
Further details on the program ratings are provided in an appendix to the circular.
Rating descriptors of programs are to be displayed according to the following principles:
- The rating must be displayed clearly and prominently in the program introduction/display folder on the device’s screen interface so that the audience can make a decision to listen to or watch the program provided on the service.
- For TV programs and audiovisual programs: The rating must continuously appear in the upper left or right corner of the screen during the program broadcast, ensuring that it does not overlap with the service icons or other icons.
- For radio programs and audio-only programs: There is no need to display the rating during the program broadcast.
3. Content Warnings
Circular 06 provides the following principles for content warnings:
- For programs rated from K to T18: Warnings must be displayed.
- For entertainment programs that are reality TV shows; art performances; TV talent contests; exhibitions of risky and dangerous acts, with the risk of causing injury; or fictional TV shows, shows based on real-life events; sports programs in extreme sports, combat sports, and martial arts with violent or/and dangerous nature: A warning text must appear at least three seconds before the time of the act or content subject to the warning, and the text must be maintained throughout the act so that viewers do not imitate and follow the acts in these programs. The warning is to be displayed at the bottom of the screen of the device during broadcast, ensuring that it does not overlap with the service icons or other icons.
The display of warning text must be done immediately at the start of the broadcast and during the broadcast of the program using one or more appropriate methods, including but not limited to verbal or written warnings.
For TV programs and audiovisual programs, a written or verbal warning must be displayed/played no later than three seconds after the start of the broadcast; and display at least one more warning text during the broadcast for programs with a duration of less than 30 minutes, display the warning text at least two more times for programs with a duration of 30 minutes or more. The display position of the warning text is right below the rating icon of the programs.
For radio programs and audio-only programs, a verbal warning must be played immediately at the start of the broadcast.
4. Technical Measures
Radio and TV service providers must implement technical and technological measures to manage their content to comply with requirements. In particular, they are required to:
- Control on the playout server programs that have been edited, rated, and had warnings attached and monitor viewers and listeners by mandatory login of personal information before listening to or viewing programs; allow listeners and viewers to control access by setting the right to restrict listening and viewing according to their needs.
- Fully archive the provided programs on the storage device system for a period of 30 days to serve the purpose of authorities’ inspection.
- Edit programs through a delayed server for entertainment programs that are broadcast at the same time as the original program.