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Vietnamese appeal for end to broadcasts of 'state-run' TV
( 2003-12-02 11:16) (Agencies)

Thousands of Vietnamese called Tuesday for an Australian television station to stop broadcasting news from their homeland,saying they fled Vietnam to get away from such "biased" reporting.

The Australian government-funded SBS network in October began broadcasting a 35-minute Vietnamese language segment six days a week, taken by satellite from Vietnamese broadcaster VTV.

But a spokesman for Australia's Vietnamese community said the program was causing "psychological damage."

"They are airing exactly what we risked our lives for," Vietnamese community president Dr. Tien Nguyen said. "Things produced (from Vietnam) are all biased, all state-run."

Nguyen said the Vietnamese community, many of whom arrived as boat people in the 1970s, felt "ambushed," as they had not been consulted by SBS before the program went to air. He was speaking at a rally of about 8,000 people outside SBS' Sydney office.

``We respect and cherish the editorial independence of a public broadcaster like SBS,'' Nguyen said. "But this is not about editorial independence, it's about editorial responsibility."

SBS spokesman Mike Field rejected as "pointless" the suggestion that the feed could come from elsewhere.

"In our WorldWatch schedule, the preference will always be the national broadcaster _ the broadcaster of record," he said.

Field added that SBS would discuss the Vietnamese community's concerns at a board meeting on Friday.

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