“Diep vu tuyet mat”, a Vietnamese adaptation of the popular US TV series “The Mole” in which one of the contestants acts as a secret agent who sabotages others’ missions, has failed to go past the very first episode after a promo showed a map in which Hanoi was in China.
Vietnam Television announced Monday, two days after the first episode, that it is temporarily suspending the show after a trailer to introduce the prizes showed Hanoi as being in China’s Guangxi Province, hundreds of kilometers away from its actual location.
The two archipelagos, Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly), were not in the map either.
A statement from the national broadcaster Monday evening said, “VTV has set up a disciplinary council to consider strict action against a deputy producing director of the entertainment department and other individuals related.”
It came hours after the image of the wrong map was all over the local media, sparking public ire.
It did not mention how long the suspension is for.
In the 14-episode series, a co-production by VTV and the Cat Tien Sa Media Group, 12 contestants, all of them well-known celebrities, will live and work together in an apartment in Thailand and have to successfully complete a list of missions to win a cash bonus after each episode.
One of the contestants was named the secret mole who will try to silently sabotage their missions, making every challenge even tougher and getting the prize if the mission fails.
The biggest mission for the team is to find out the spy and expose them in the final episode.
On Monday morning Nguyen Quang Minh, director of Cat Tien Sa, told the media that Air Asia, the main sponsor of the program, had provided the map, which was vaguely drawn without any borders between countries, causing the mistake.
Minh added that his team had corrected the mistake.
At noon that day Air Asia released a statement saying the mistake had been caused by “negligence in checking content”.
This is not the first time a program on national television has made viewers angry because of similar "negligence."
Last September Lai Van Sam, head of the Sports, Entertainment and Business desk at VTV3, said footage of an angry reality show contestant beheading a soft-shelled turtle was broadcast nationally due to “an [human] error in censoring [sensitive content].”
“We are responsible for that mistake. Sometimes [we have to] watch too many programs in a day and only inattention [causes us to] miss such scenes.
“[We] stood there stupefied after [it was] broadcast.”
He was referring to a close-up shot in the September 20 episode of the reality cooking show MasterChef Vietnam.
In January VTV was embarrassed and issued an apology and suspended both the program and director of “Dieu uoc thu 7” (The Saturday Wish), a reality show that had promised to tell only "real stories of real people", after it was fined VND40 million for “wrong information that has negative impacts on the public."
The fateful episode purported to tell the story of a poor musician who wished to perform on live television with his blind wife. The show won the hearts of everyone until it was revealed that the musician had secretly married another woman.