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Cablegate: Voice of America Receives Positive Signal From

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002169

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/PD AND EAP/BCLTV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO VM
SUBJECT: VOICE OF AMERICA RECEIVES POSITIVE SIGNAL FROM
VIETNAMESE TELEVISION

1. (U) SUMMARY: VOICE OF AMERICA'S (VOA) ASIA DIRECTOR FOR
MARKETING AND PROGRAM PLACEMENT, DR. JOYCE NGOH, GARNERED A
POSITIVE REACTION FROM VIETNAM TELEVISION ON HER FOURTH
ANNUAL VISIT TO HANOI. FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE VOA BEGAN
ITS MARKETING EFFORTS IN VIETNAM, VTV OFFICIALS WELCOMED
VOA'S ENGLISH TEACHING PROGRAMS AND AGREED TO WORK TOWARDS
A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING. DR. NGOH'S FIRST VISIT TO
HANOI RADIO AND TELEVISION ALSO ESTABLISHED THE GROUNDWORK
FOR FURTHER DISCUSSIONS. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) ON AUGUST 3, DR. JOYCE NGOH, ASIA DIRECTOR FOR
MARKETING AND PROGRAM PLACEMENT OF VOICE OF AMERICA (VOA)
IN BANGKOK, MET WITH MR. PHAM VIET TIEN, GENERAL DIRECTOR
OF THE EDUCATIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC PROGRAM DEPARTMENT, AND
MR. NGUYEN VAN PHUONG, GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION DEPARTMENT AT VIETNAM TELEVISION
(VTV). (COMMENT: STATE-OWNED VTV IS THE LARGEST TELEVISION
STATION IN VIETNAM AND BROADCASTS NATIONWIDE. IT RECENTLY
BECAME THE FIRST STATION IN VIETNAM TO SIGN A COPYRIGHT
AGREEMENT WITH THE MUSIC INDUSTRY TO PAY FEES FOR SONGS
USED IN ITS BROADCAST PROGRAMS. END COMMENT). THIS IS DR.
NGOH'S FOURTH VISIT TO VTV TO EXPLAIN THE VARIOUS TYPES OF
ENGLISH TEACHING PROGRAMMING VOA MAKES AVAILABLE FREE OF
CHARGE. IN THE PAST, VTV OFFICIALS EXPRESSED LITTLE
INTEREST AND SEEMED TO REGARD DR. NGOH'S VISITS AS NO MORE
THAN A COURTESY CALL. CITING BUDGETARY CONSTRAINTS, MR.
PHAM SAID THEY ARE NOW VERY INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH VOA.

3. (U) DR. NGOH DESCRIBED TWO POSSIBLE PROGRAMS FOR VTV
USE AND PROVIDED VHS TAPE SAMPLES OF BOTH. "SPECIAL
ENGLISH" IS A PROGRAM OF FIVE-MINUTE REPORTS ON
AGRICULTURAL, EDUCATIONAL, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND HEALTH
ISSUES. IT IS AN ORIGINAL VOA PROGRAMMING AND TAILORED FOR
THE VIETNAMESE MARKET. THE SECOND PROGRAM, "CONNECT WITH
ENGLISH," CONTAINS FIFTEEN-MINUTE SHOWS OF A TEACHER AND
STUDENT INTERACTING THROUGH REPETITION OF WORDS. VOA HAS
PURCHASED THIS PROGRAM FROM A PRIVATE COMPANY. MR. PHAM
EXPRESSED VTV INTEREST IN BOTH PROGRAMS, BUT SAID HE
PREFERRED THE LATTER, ESPECIALLY IN CONJUNCTION WITH VTV'S
EXISTING ENGLISH PROGRAMS.

4. (U) DR. NGOH EMPHASIZED THAT VOA WOULD PROVIDE THE
PROGRAMMING FREE OF CHARGE BUT, IN RETURN, VTV SHOULD
APPROPRIATELY BROADCAST CREDIT TO VOA. MR. PHAM PROPOSED
HAVING AN ANNOUNCER THANK VOA AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH
PROGRAM AND INCLUDE WRITTEN CREDITS AT THE END. WHEN
PRESSED ABOUT HAVING A VOA LOGO APPEAR ON THE SCREEN
THROUGHOUT THE PROGRAM, MR. PHAM SAID THAT WAS UNACCEPTABLE
BECAUSE VIEWERS WOULD THINK VTV HAD "STOLEN" THE PROGRAM
FROM A FOREIGN CHANNEL. HE FURTHER COMMENTED THAT, IN THE
PAST, VTV HAD REJECTED PROGRAMMING FROM CNN FOR THIS
REASON. DR. NGOH ALSO DISCUSSED PROVIDING THE PROGRAMMING
VIA SATELLITE TRANSMISSION INSTEAD OF VHS TAPES, AS VTV
PREFERRED. FOR THE FIRST TIME, VTV OFFICIALS EXPRESSED
INTEREST IN WORKING TOWARDS A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
WITH VOA IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. THEY ALSO DISCUSSED THE
POSSIBILITY OF VOA PURCHASING THE BROADCASTING RIGHTS FROM
A PRIVATE COMPANY AND PROVIDING THE PROGRAMS TO VTV FREE OF
CHARGE UNDER VOA SPONSORSHIP.

5. (U) ASIDE FROM VTV, DR. NGOH MET FOR THE FIRST TIME
WITH VU NGOC MINH, VICE DIRECTOR OF HANOI RADIO AND
TELEVISION (HRT), A LOCAL TV AND RADIO STATION BROADCASTING
TO TEN CITIES AND PROVINCES IN THE RED RIVER DELTA AREA.
MR. VU NOTED HRT'S INTEREST IN LONG FEATURES OF AMERICAN
TOURISM, CULTURAL, MUSIC, AND HEALTH PROGRAMS. MR. VU
INSISTED THAT ANY FEATURES PROGRAMMING WOULD HAVE TO BE
SUBMITTED IN ENGLISH, THEN PROPERLY EDITED AND DUBBED BY
THE STATION. HE REJECTED DR. NGOH'S SUGGESTION OF POSSIBLY
PROVIDING A VIETNAMESE-LANGUAGE PROGRAM BECAUSE IT WOULD
NOT PROPERLY REFLECT THE "NORTHERN VIETNAMESE STYLE AND
DIALECT." MR. VU AGREED TO MEET WITH DR. NGOH IN THE
FUTURE TO CONTINUE DISCUSSIONS OF POSSIBLE PROJECTS.

6. (U) DR. NGOH ALSO MET WITH VOICE OF VIETNAM (VOV) RADIO
STATION'S VICE DIRECTOR FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING PROGRAMS, NGUYEN VAN KHIEM. VOV
HAS BEEN BROADCASTING VOA'S "NEW DYNAMIC ENGLISH" PROGRAM
SINCE FEBRUARY, BUT HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY OFF-AIR DURING THE
COLLEGE EXAMINATION PERIOD. WHEN ASKED WHY VOV WAS NOT
MENTIONING VOA SPONSORSHIP EACH TIME DURING ITS FIFTY-
EPISODE PROGRAM, AS ORIGINALLY AGREED TO, MR. NGUYEN
REPLIED THAT VOV'S STANDARD POLICY WAS TO CREDIT ITS
SPONSORS IN THE FIRST AND LAST EPISODES ONLY. DR. NGOH
RESPONDED THAT THIS WAS AN ISSUE THEY SHOULD CONTINUE TO
DISCUSS BEFORE VOA ALLOCATED FURTHER PROGRAMMING. DR. NGOH
ALSO PLANS TO TRAVEL TO HO CHI MINH CITY THIS WEEK FOR
SIMILAR MEETINGS.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: AFTER FOUR YEARS OF PRESENTING AND RE-
PRESENTING VOA'S PROGRAMS, THIS IS THE FIRST SIGN OF A
POSITIVE RESPONSE FROM VTV. ALTHOUGH WE ARE UNCERTAIN ABOUT
THE REASONS FOR THE SUDDEN CHANGE OF HEART AND WARY OF THE
CONCRETE STEPS VTV MUST STILL TAKE TO ATTAIN AN OFFICIAL
MOU, THE UNEXPECTEDLY ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE FROM VTV IS A
NOTED DEPARTURE FROM THE PAST. VOA EFFORTS IN EXPOSING ITS
PROGRAMMING AND INCREASING ITS APPEAL TO THE VIETNAMESE
AUDIENCE THROUGH ENGLISH TEACHING IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
THAT WE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR CLOSELY.

BURGHARDT

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