The Ministry of Information and Communications has recently posted on its website the latest draft of the Press Law which is designed to replace the 1989 Press Law and its 1999 amendments.
The draft revision, with 58 articles arranged in six chapters, contains many significant new provisions on association in press activities, prohibited acts in press activities and professional operations of press agencies.
Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam talks to the pess on the sidelines of the NA’s 9th session__Photo: An Dang/VNA
Association in press activities is defined in the draft as a form of cooperation between press agencies and associate partners to create part or the whole of press products or to distribute, transmit or broadcast press works.
Press agencies may enter into association with one another or with other legal entities or individuals that have registered for doing business in the lines suitable to the fields of association. Heads of press agencies will be held responsible for all association activities in accordance with law.
Under the draft, press agencies may choose associate partners to conduct a range of activities such as designing, printing and distributing newspapers; using or purchasing copyrighted foreign press publications for publishing in Vietnam; purchasing and translating foreign radio and television programs into Vietnamese for broadcasting in Vietnam; producing radio or television broadcasts or channels. However, the aggregate time volume of all copyrighted programs of which formats are purchased from overseas and which are broadcast on a radio or television channel must not exceed 10 percent of the total time volume of such channel.
Particularly, foreign organizations and individuals may sign association contracts with Vietnamese press agencies to use or purchase copyrighted Vietnamese press publications for publishing in foreign countries.
Another new content of the draft law involves prohibited activities in press activities.
Accordingly, in addition to information contents banned from appearing on the press under the current law, the press may neither disclose personal privacy details of individuals nor publish information distorting the national history or national heroes, denying revolutionary achievements or running counter to the interests of the country and people.
The draft law also adds prohibited acts in press activities. These activities include conducting press activities without licenses; failing to comply with granted licenses; forging, modifying, transferring, leasing or borrowing licenses or press cards; printing or distributing press products suspended from distribution, withdrawn, confiscated, banned from circulation or ordered to be destroyed; broadcasting radio or television programs which have been suspended or banned from circulation; re-publishing contents already removed from e-newspapers; and importing press products having banned contents.
Under the draft law, press agencies on the one hand may request competent agencies, organizations and individuals to answer questions raised by citizens via the press, but on the other hand, when requested, would have to explain matters they have reported.
If agencies, organizations or individuals have grounds to believe that press agencies publish untrue information, distort, slander or harm their prestige, honor or dignity, they may send written feedback to press agencies and request the latter to publish or broadcast such feedback, otherwise, they may initiate a lawsuit at court. However, press agencies may refuse to publish or broadcast opinions and feedback that violate law or harm the prestige or honor of press agencies or journalists.
As scheduled, the draft revised Press Law will be submitted to the National Assembly for debate at its 10th session in October.-