Vietnam News

Vietnam suspends online magazine owned by top tech group after probe

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Popular online magazine Zing News, ultimately owned by one of the country’s top digital groups, VNG Corp, said on Thursday it had to suspend publications for three months after a government investigation.

The Communist-ruled country is stepping up a crackdown on media, with plans also to limit social media accounts that post news-related content, which the government says mislead readers into thinking they are authorised news outlets.

In a statement posted on its website, Zing News said during the suspension period “it will focus on overcoming and thoroughly correcting the shortcomings” in its application of a prime minister’s decision from 2019 which adopted a “press development and management” plan.

The plan tightened controls on media and, among other limitations, required newspapers to have an affiliation with a ministry and banned magazines from publishing breaking news.

Zing News is owned by the country’s main messaging app Zalo which in turn is a unit of VNG. It is licensed as a digital magazine, but has covered a wide range of topics including breaking and daily news.

Its press office was not immediately available for comment.

The information ministry, which conducted the investigation of Zing News, was also not immediately available for comment.

It is not the first time a media outlet has been suspended in Vietnam. In 2018, state-run Tuoi Tre had to halt publications for three months for posting false information, according to a government statement.

Vietnam was ranked 178th out of 180 countries in the 2023 media freedom index compiled by non-profit Reporters Without Borders, faring better only than China and North Korea.

“Vietnam’s traditional media are closely controlled by the single party. Independent reporters and bloggers are often jailed,” the non-profit said in its evaluation of the country.

By Francesco Guarascio – Reuters – July 13, 2023

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