Reforming Vietnamese media law: with special reference to Australian models

Author: Thuy Hang Nguyen

Nguyen, Thuy Hang, 2017 Reforming Vietnamese media law: with special reference to Australian models, Flinders University, Flinders Law School

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The media industry has been developing significantly in Vietnam, especially since 1986, the period of Doi moi or Economic Renovation. In this thesis, that means that the number of media organizations and media products has grown strongly and that media content has been changing to include a greater range of subject matters. Vietnamese media legislation, however, has not kept up with this development in such a way as to serve the public interest. This project examines Vietnamese media legislation in order to identify and analyse its shortcomings. The study then describes Australian media regulations for the purpose of assessing whether they represent a model that could address the identified shortcomings of Vietnamese media legislation. Regulations critiqued include the Vietnamese Press Law 1989, Vietnamese Civil Code 2005, Vietnamese Criminal Code 1999, Vietnamese Denunciation Law 2011, Spokesman Regulation 2007, Law on Technology Transfer 2006, Decree No. 51/2002/NĐ-CP enacted on 26 April 2002 detailing the Vietnamese Press Law 1989, and Ordinance No. 30 on the protection of state secrets enacted 28 September 2000. The shortcomings identified are: political interference in media activities limiting freedom of expression and freedom of information; the lack of privacy protection; the absence of provisions defining opposition (as distinct from dissent), government secrets, and defamation; the lack of detail about the right to free access to government-held information; and the lack of complaints and grievances handling processes. The project asks: how well are freedom of expression and freedom of information protected well in Australia and in Vietnam? Is media ownership regulated in Australia and Vietnam in such a way as to support those freedoms, diverse ownership, diverse content and the development of the media industry? Are complaints and grievances against the media handled well in Australia and Vietnam? Finally, are Australian enforcement processes preferable to those in Vietnam? To answer these questions, I reviewed legal documents such as laws, documents guiding the implementation of law (degrees, circulars), by-laws and reports of Australian court cases, and consulted secondary literature such as textbooks, monographs, journal articles and law reform reports. I extended that data by conducting a series of semi-structured interviews with a range of key individuals who have an affiliation with media law in both Australia and Vietnam. I then reviewed Australian models to examine whether or not they could inform ways of redressing the deficiencies of Vietnamese media laws. Through this research I find that Vietnamese media legislation is not well developed and needs to be reformed. Although Australian media law is not perfect, it can provide a range of models for Vietnam. Australian models cannot address all the shortcomings of Vietnamese media legislation. However, Vietnam could benefit from Australian provisions covering a number of areas including freedom of political communication; the right of access to government-held information; the balancing of free expression and freedom of information with other legitimate interests; definitions of many matters such as opposition and defamation; ownership and control; and complaints and grievances handling. Based on these findings, the project makes recommendations for the reform of Vietnamese media legislation to make it catch up and support the development of the media industry in a way that serves the public interest.

Keywords: media, Vietnam, freedom of information, freedom of expression, defamation, sedition

Subject: Law thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: Flinders Law School
Supervisor: Professor Elizabeth Handsley