Public television

Broadcast TV consists of VTV-1 through VTV-5, and is an outgrowth of “Radio Vietnam,” begun in 1970. Major sports events are often broadcast, and although commentary is in Vietnamese, there are no commercial breaks in sports broadcasts–so you may finally get to see, for example, what happens during time-outs in an NBA game or on changeovers at Wimbledon.

A brief overview of programming is as follows:

  • VTV-1, Politics, economy, culture and society. (Vietnamese)
  • VTV-2, Scientific and Educational programming. (Vietnamese)
  • VTV-3, Sports and entertainment. (Vietnamese)
  • VTV-4, Domestic news and information, children’s programs, tourism programs, aimed at overseas Vietnamese, in English or in Vietnamese with English subtitles.
  • VTV-5, Special programs for Vietnamese ethnic minorities (such as the H’mong people) in minority languages.

Cable TV

You can get a basic cable TV package that includes HBO, Cinemax, Star Movies, CNN, Hallmark, Discovery, and several other English-language channels for about VND 60,000 per month. VCTV, the local provider, has good English-language customer support (at the number below), but it’s safest to visit the office to choose and sign up for your service. Once you’ve signed up for a plan, a technician will install a cable box and help connect your TVs.

Vietnam Cable Television (VCTV)
844 De La Thanh
Tel: 043 835 6611

Satellite TV

Alternately, you can buy a small dish antenna and a decoder for around $150 in one of the electronics shops on Hai Ba Trung Street, with which you can receive any channel in the world, subtitle-free. The plate-sized antennae are small enough to fit right next to your TV–if you’re just a bit tech-savvy (or if your kids are!) you can set this up yourself–or you can ask the shop to send out a technician to connect the antenna and decoder for a small fee, usually $10-20. Placement of antennae is unrestricted on roofs, balconies, or any other area that does not impede public transportation.