A 2008 European Football Championship match between France and Romania in Switzerland
In a bizarre act, Vietnam Television's top official in charge of selling broadcast rights warned the nation's media last Tuesday that since VTV has the Vietnam rights for Euro 2012, any use of images from the football competition will be a violation of copyright.
Do Thi Lan Huong, manager, advertising and TV services, said: "Newspapers in Vietnam who want to use images related to Euro 2012 must send a written application to VTV.
"Reporters from Vietnam who want to go to the competition to cover matches must also get permission from VTV.
"The copyright package that VTV bought from UEFA includes the right to trade and use the Euro logo and souvenirs, so any agency that wants to exploit them for advertising must get VTV's consent.
"Also, Internet, mobile-phone, and IPTV systems are not allowed to rebroadcast the Euro 2012 matches."
Her outrageous comments set off a furor among reporters who reminded her that VTV's exclusive rights in Vietnam are only for TV and not print or any other medium.
Vietnamese newspapers have for long been buying images of international events from major media organizations like Reuters, AFP, and AP, who too hold rights, they said.
Public needs must be met
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Do Quy Doan told Thanh Nien that VTV, as the national broadcaster, was tasked with buying the rights for the European Football Championship to prevent Vietnamese TV channels from competing and raising prices.
VTV must ensure the goal of meeting public needs is achieved, she said.
All the issues raised by VTV must be subservient to the benefits of football fans, he said.
Issues related to advertising and other commercial aspects must be resolved cooperatively to ensure there are no disputes or misunderstanding.
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Besides, UEFA has already accredited Vietnamese reporters for the Euro and provided them with press cards, and VTV had no say in the matter, they added.
As for organizing contests and others related to the tournament, newspapers and other media organizations do not even need to obtain permission from UEFA, leave alone VTV.
Following the outcry, Nguyen Ha Nam, manager of VTV's Board of Editors, was forced to say: "We think newspapers are entitled to buy and use images provided by international media corporations like Reuters, AFP, and AP.
"It is not included in the copyright package that we bought. Those big media corporations are UEFA's partners, so they are responsible for their images."
Phan Ngoc Tien, deputy manager of VTV3 channel, said: "[Reports and images] by Vietnamese newspapers and TV stations at the Euro event in Poland and Ukraine are their own products, and have nothing to do with VTV.
He even said: "Websites are allowed to use short [TV] clips from Euro 2012 though not for commercial purposes.
"Other channels who have bought rights from VTV should talk to us if they want to send their reporters to Poland and Ukraine to enjoy preferential treatment.
"TV stations, online newspapers, and websites are allowed to use Euro-2012-related clips for 90 seconds at most."
He admitted that VTV's rights were mainly related to TV and newspapers' use of images had nothing to do with VTV.
Details of VTV's Euro 2012 broadcast rights
VTV is permitted to broadcast and share pictures from the Euro 2012 in Vietnamese territory and in Vietnamese and English. Means of transmission: TV, Internet, mobile phones, IPTV.
Details of the rights:
a. Media rights: The right to produce and broadcast the following: live matches, rebroadcast of matches, match reviews, programs on tournament fixtures, other programs like match reports and analyses
b. Use of match footage in other programs: The right to produce and broadcast photos and video clips of matches in other programs of VTV.
c. Interactive digital TV services
d. UEFA's additional programs: Additional programs provided by UEFA, including the above programs and teasers for those programs.
e. Audio broadcast: The right to produce and broadcast audio programs.
f. Other rights:
+ The right to advertise: The right to use and reproduce the UEFA 2012 logo for the purpose of promoting Euro 2012 programs in Vietnam.
+ The right to distribute souvenirs in Vietnamese territory: These souvenirs must originate from the sponsors and others licensed by UEFA.