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Development of internet, social networks challenges broadcasters

HA NOI, May 25 — Digital technology in the form of emails, blogs and social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter means traditional broadcasters in Asia are facing new challenges, a conference in Ha Noi heard yesterday.

Broadcasters attending the two-day 8th Asia Media Summit, themed "Digital media everywhere: repositioning broadcasting", discussed hot issues facing the broadcasting sector such as technological innovation, television scheduling strategies and new media content.

"The digital world is upon us, igniting a revolution in the laws of attraction that govern the media industry," said Thoyyib Mohamed Waheed, president of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development.

"Traditionally, broadcasting – radio and television – has served to be the centre of family attention and interaction, be it in the living room or dining room.

Its pervasiveness and impact are no doubt an issue. But with the advent of laptops, cellphones and iPads, this powerful magnet of attention has begun to share its influence and change the idea of the family cornerstone," he said.

"Audiences are fragmenting, becoming more discriminating in programme choice, demanding a medium that is available anywhere and anytime, one that can justify their investments in time and resources."

With "digital everywhere", the battle for attention was more intense than ever, he said. Radio and television could no longer be just a "box" in the living or dining room. It had to be a dynamic platform that incorporated new digital technology, that accommodated changing consumer experiences and that allowed for creative strategies.

"Equally critical for all of us present here is how we reposition broadcasting and tap digital media so that we earn the relevance in each medium in order to attract and retain audiences," he added.

At the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan said the Vietnamese Government attached great importance to the development of the media industry.

There are 67 radio and TV stations across the country with about 200 channels.

The paid-for TV network has expanded significantly in recent years, and has 50 domestic and 75 foreign channels.

Since 2008, following the launch of the Vinasat-1 telecommunications satellite, TV and radio broadcasts reach virtually the whole of the country, while broadband internet services are now available in 87 per cent of communes, wards and townships and has about 20 million regular users.

All schools in Viet Nam, from primary to high schools, have had free internet access since 2010.

Meanwhile, 3G telecom services have been available since 2009, and 4G services now provided on a trial basis, enabling people to access radio and TV, the internet and other services from their mobile phones.

"The fast-growing broadcasting industry in Viet Nam is moving forward, updating technologies, professionalising programmes and diversifying content in order to meet the increasing demand of domestic and foreign audiences," Nhan said.

"The powerful development of science and technology has posed both challenges and opportunities for the broadcasting industry. Thus the Government has defined specific orientations and steps to be taken as well as closely directed application of advanced technologies in broadcasting services," he said.

In 2005, the Government decided to introduce digital terrestrial television services throughout the country, making Viet Nam among the first in the region to digitise broadcasting transmissions.

In a video message sent to the summit, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Asia was at the forefront of digital technology and new media.

"Of course, challenges remain. Let us work together to bridge the digital divide so that all people can benefit. Let us promote multiple languages in new media and let us ensure free access to the internet and social media tools everywhere," he added.

The annual summit, hosted for the first time in Viet Nam by Radio Voice of Viet Nam and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, attracted about 600 local and international delegates from more than 50 countries and territories. (PNA/VNS)

DCT/rsm

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