Laos says in order to increase the competitiveness of its media sector as planned, from now to at least 2015, it needs funding of more than US$ 120 million. Minister of Information and Culture Mounkeo Olaboun said recently this amount of money is needed to upgrade technology and equipments, as well as personnel, in the nation’s media system to enable it to compete with other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries by 2020.
However, with a limited budget, Laos has to rely mainly on foreign aids for funding. So far, Laos has already sought assistance from three countries, revealed Mr. Mounkeo Olaboun who added that a grant of approximately US$ 10 million was provided by China to upgrade Lao TV Channel 3. This project has already started and is expected to be completed by the end of this year and ready for use in 2009. Another US$ 10 million grant was provided by Vietnam to improve the transmission system in four regions - Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Champassack and Savannakhet provinces. The Lao government is also looking to obtain a low-interest loan of US$35 million from South Korea to help fund its media development project.
A recent one-week visit to China led by Mr. Bosengkham Vongdala, Vice Minister of Information and Culture and Chairman of the Lao Press Association, has led to a closer cooperation between Laos and China in the media sector. Under China’s assistance in improving Laos’ media quality, both in substance and technology including converting from analog to digital, Laos believes that by 2015, its radio and television signals will be able to cover all of Lao territory.
Meanwhile, China also plans to expand its national radio and international television broadcasts to cover not only all of Laos, but also all Southeast Asian countries during the same period. Laos has already allowed China’s International Radio to set up an office in Vientiane and broadcast in Lao, Chinese and English, as long as twelve hours a day.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.