A Vietnamese television station in southern California canceled a news program after it briefly aired images of the communist Vietnamese flag and Ho Chi Minh, the founder of communist Vietnam.
Executives at Saigon TV canceled "Vietnamese American Xposure," a weekly half-hour English-language program, and issued a public apology after dozens of angry viewers complained about the flag and photos.
Michael Nguyen, head of Saigon TV, said it is considered unacceptable to show images of Ho or the communist flag in Vietnamese media in the U.S. because they can be offensive to Vietnamese refugees.
Saigon TV is privately owned and broadcast statewide.
Nguyen said he did not see the Oct. 9 news segment before it was aired by a non-Vietnamese technician who was unaware of the significance of the images.
The segment was about protests that erupted in 1999 when a video store owner in Orange County's "Little Saigon" community, home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam, hung the flag and a poster of Ho in his shop.
"VAX" showed the images for about five seconds, but that was enough to enrage refugees in the area.
"We are trying to forget the images of Ho Chi Minh and the flag burning, but they aired them on television and opened up old wounds," said Cung Tran, the owner of a local weekly newspaper and a member of a group of ex-political prisoners.
Sa Dao, associate executive producer of the "VAX" program, said the segment was not meant as an endorsement of communism. He said producers did not think the images would offend anyone since they were presented as part of a news story.