As of January 1, 2024, all films distributed in cyberspace in Vietnam must display ratings and warnings (if required) for viewers, following the phased-in effectiveness of Decree No. 131/2022/ND-CP of the Government dated December 31, 2022, guiding the implementation of the Law on Cinematography (Decree 131).
While Decree 131 took effect on January 1, 2023 (the same date as the Law on Cinematography), it provided a grace period of one year for films to be distributed in cyberspace without the display of ratings or warnings. Now, for continued distribution in cyberspace of such films, distributors must add ratings and warnings in compliance with regulations issued under Circular No. 05/2023/TT-BVHTTDL of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MOCST) dated April 5, 2023 (Circular 05).
Film distributors can either carry out the film rating by themselves or request the MOCST to provide the rating. In the former case, the distributor must request the MOCST to recognize its eligibility for self-rating. (Based on our experience successfully obtaining this recognition for a client, this procedure may take about two to three months for completion, depending on the availability of required information and materials.) If a distributor cannot obtain recognition for film self-rating eligibility, it must request the MOCST to provide the film rating for each and every film it distributes in cyberspace.
Display of Ratings and Warnings
Circular 05 requires that the film rating must be displayed clearly and prominently in the introduction of a film in order for a user to make an informed decision to access that film or not. Moreover, the rating must be displayed on the left or right corner of the screen during the entire distribution time. Warning contents must be in words or sound which must be displayed three seconds after the beginning of the film’s distribution at the latest. The warning contents must be right under the film rating and be displayed a maximum of three times during the distribution of the film if the film duration is 20 minutes or more.
Notification of Distributed Films and Film Ratings
After completing the film rating process, the film distributor is required to notify the MOCST of the list of films to be distributed and the results of the film ratings before proceeding with online distribution. The notification is to be carried out through the “Data System on Rating of Films in Cyberspace” of the Vietnam Cinema Department (VCD) under the MOCST.
At the latest seminar held by the MOCST in Hanoi on December 28, 2023, regarding the dissemination of legal documents guiding the implementation of the Law on Cinematography, the representative of the VCD shared that it has built an application for managing the release of films in cyberspace, which is presumably the Data System mentioned in Decree 131. The VCD also reported that the entities disseminating films in cyberspace will announce the films and the results of film rating through this application, and the VCD will instruct the entities to use this application when it is available. The VCD said that the application for managing the release of films in cyberspace would be tested on December 29, 2023. However, as of January 8, 2024, it appears this application has not yet been publicly launched and is not available for use.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Failure to comply with the above requirements regarding the rating of films may subject the film distributor to a monetary fine of from VND 80 million (approx. USD 3,300) to VND 100 million (approx. USD 4,100), under provisions of Decree No. 38/2021/ND-CP of the Government dated March 29, 2021, on penalties for administrative violations involving cultural and advertising activities, as amended in 2021 and 2022.