Switch turns off for foreign satellite TV imports

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The days of unregulated imports of foreign satellite television receivers have come to the close of a long run after Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism issued a notification suspending the import of all such receivers into Laos as of the start of this month. 

As of February 1, 2018, all companies, stores, wholesalers, individuals, legal entities and organisations across the country engaged in businesses related to the import, distribution and installation of satellite television receivers are obliged to follow the notification.

The aim is to improve the management of all satellite television receivers in order to ensure compliance with laws and regulations as well as ensure the relevant rights, benefits and responsibilities for all satellite receiver users, officials said.

Entrepreneurs who have imported and possess satellite television receivers for customer service are urgently required to provide details of their business operations to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism or the Vientiane Information, Culture and Tourism Department if based in the capital city.

Enterprises in other provinces should inform the respective provincial department of Information, Culture and Tourism. 

In the past, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce had not moved to restrict the import of receivers for sale across the country, a ministry official in charge of the issue told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The new notification will facilitate the collection of information and details of the companies, stores, wholesalers, individuals, legal entities and organisations throughout the country that conduct businesses related to the import, distribution and installation of satellite television receivers.

Following a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism will be responsible for granting permission for importation, while other relevant ministries will manage the standard levels for products and technology imports.

At the beginning of last year, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) issued a letter calling on the Customs Department of the Ministry of Finance to block imports of satellite receivers by importers who had not been granted permission by the MPT.      

Currently, many companies have imported receivers capable of receiving satellite signals from foreign countries for sale in local markets.

In addition, satellite signals of other countries have been distributed in Laos without permission from the MPT, which violates the relevant regulations, the MPT said in its letter.

The new notification blocks the import of DTH antenna receivers and set-top-box receivers as well related equipment.

It is a violation of international treaties regulating satellite affairs for a country to offer satellite signal service in another country without permission from the latter, according to the MPT.

To offer satellite signal services to customers across international borders, the country that owns the satellite is required to reach an agreement with any of those it seeks to offer its signals within.

Several neighbouring countries, including Thailand, Vietnam and China, have also moved to ban the unregulated import and use of foreign satellite receivers in their jurisdictions.

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