Vietnam's stodgy, Communist-run state TV broadcaster has learned some new tricks -- including the appeal of the game show -- to grab some of the millions of advertising dollars flowing into the country.
One of Vietnam Television's top-rated programs is a local version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Contestants compete in a general knowledge quiz show for the big prize -- 100 million dong, or about $6,200 -- while advertisers pay up to $3,400 for a 30-second slot during prime-time commercial breaks.
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" is shown on VTV3, a free-to-air channel started by Vietnam Television in 1996, in a bid to shake off the broadcaster's somber image and attract the advertising money coming into Vietnam, a country of 84 million that is transforming itself from a Marxist backwater to one of Asia's fastest-growing economies. The government projects that gross domestic product will increase 8.5% this year, after expanding 8.4% in 2006.
VTV3's ad revenue grew 29% last year to $91 million from $70.7 million the year before, according to the Vietnam office of London-based media-monitoring agency Taylor Nelson Sofres.