The potential for the development of the pay television industry in Vietnam remains large, but policies are needed to ensure that this development is rapid and sustainable.

Industry experts expressed this view at an international conference in the capital city on September 11 which discussed opportunities for the development of pay television in the country.

The Cable and Satellite Broadcasters Association of Asia (CASBAA) and VTVCab sponsored the conference, which carried the theme "Vietnam In View 2014" and attracted more than 100 representatives from leading television and mass communication enterprises.

Since its inception in Vietnam in 1993, the industry has experienced dynamic growth alongside the country's economic development but has yet to achieve its full potential.

Hoang Vinh Bao, director of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said pay TV has expanded to most provinces and cities throughout the country, with more than 30 providers of cable, satellite, mobile and digital TV services.

Although the number of pay TV subscribers nearly doubled from 2010 to 2013 and reached 6.5 million by the end of last year, the potential for pay TV remained huge in a country of approximately 22 million households and a population of 90 million.

Vu Tu Thanh, deputy regional managing director and representative of the US-ASEAN Business Council in Vietnam, said that to date, pay TV services had penetrated a mere 25 percent of the population, which was lower than that of neibouring countries at 31.8 percent.

Thanh added that with such a huge potential, Vietnam should have policies to stimulate the development of pay TV services to contribute to the country's economic development.

Television advertisement turnover enjoyed a rapid growth of around 28 percent in recent years. Advertising on pay TV channels has become a new trend and was projected to account for 80 percent of future advertisement turnover, according to Thanh.

Le Dinh Cuong, deputy president of the Vietnam Association of Pay TV, said the industry was faced with the growing popularity of over-the-top (OTT) television, as well as cheating and evasion of fee payments among subscribers and unhealthy competition among service providers to attract more subscribers.

Cuong added that the participation of telecommunications companies such as VNPT, Viettel and FPT in the pay TV market would pull down pay TV fees, and the association was considering imposing regulations on floor service prices to prevent this.

Since pay TV is an indispensable development trend and plays a key role in serving the country's demand for entertainment, the Government should focus on rearranging pay TV service providers to creating strong companies and enhance competitiveness and quality within the industry, said Bao.

He also called for the completion of legal frameworks for the industry to ensure its development in line with the Government's plan and the global trend.-VNA