Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son has stressed the need to introduce press reforms to ensure a stronger news media.

Son told the June 15 episode of the TV programme “People Ask, Minister Answers” that substantial planning is required to reduce the number of media agencies and create a legal framework to ensure that the quantity and quality of the country’s news output are both more effective.

Vietnam now has 838 print newspapers, 67 radio and television networks with nearly 200 audio and visual channels, plus about ten foreign TV channels operating in the country.

Vietnam has also seen strong development of online newspapers, which are becoming a main source of information.

However, the rapid expansion of the press system has raised alarm among many people who feel that the resources and money being poured into the sector are being wasted.

In addition, competition for readers among media outlets has led to a rise in unverified or untrue news reports being published alongside increasingly sensational news and photo stories, leaving readers unsatisfied and badly informed.

Minister Son affirmed that many online newspapers have broken regulations stipulated in Vietnam’s Press Law.

Since 2011, the ministry has punished online papers for publishing errors 62 times, including a fixed-term suspension on two publications, the revoking of press registrations and a ban for editors at fault.

The minister warned against readers taking their news from publications that don’t provide supporting evidence or verification. He said these news outlets infringe the fundamental regulations in press operations.

Last year, the ministry developed a decision on the management of the provision of internet services and online information, which was issued along with the Government’s decree on administrative punishment in press and publication activities.-VNA