The draft amendments to the Vietnam Cinema Law (the 4th version, "Draft Law") were published for public consultation. The drafting team received various feedbacks and comments from the relevant stakeholders. The Ministry of Justice ("MOJ") is in the midst of reviewing and assessing the comments received from the stakeholders and will finalize the latest draft (the 5th version) for promulgation. This short article discusses a number of salient points under the Draft Law which will, if adopted, impact on various stakeholders, especially those providing VOD services on a cross border basis.

  • Under the 5th version of the Draft Law, it is expected that foreign companies disseminating films over the Internet will be no longer required to set up a branch/representative office in Vietnam. In addition, films disseminated over the Internet shouldn't be subject to the Film Dissemination and Classification Permit requirement.
  • Companies disseminating films over the Internet may have the following obligations:
    • For films disseminated over the Internet that have been granted with a Film Dissemination and Classification Permit or a Broadcasting Decision: service providers will display relevant film classifications in accordance with the existing Film Dissemination and Classification Permit and/or the Broadcasting Decision.
    • Films disseminated over the Internet that have not been granted with a Film Dissemination and Classification Permit or a Broadcasting Decision: service providers will self-classify films and display classification results based on the Vietnamese age-rating system provided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (“MCST”);
    • To take down films that infringe Vietnamese laws upon request of the competent authority.

Last but not least, while the Draft Law does not specify the capped/minimum ratio of the screenings, it requires enterprises that distribute films to comply with the Government’s requirement of the ratio of Vietnamese versus foreign films being screened. The policy of (i) restricting the screening of imported films, (ii) encouraging Vietnamese film production and (iii) the Government’s requirement for any ratio of Vietnamese films being screened, is essentially market access barrier and will likely not sustain the healthy development of the industry in the long term. Furthermore, these are not only directly contrary to the long-term policy objectives, but may also be inconsistent with the spirit of Vietnam’s WTO obligations.

Will the MOJ and MCST consider the stakeholders' comments and make positive changes? This will be unfolded in a new few months.