Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Media BS

My colleagues tell me that the reason the GIO didn’t renew the ETTV News S license back on Aug. 2 was to send a message to all news channels that they had better slant their bias in favor of the DPP in upcoming city and county elections here in Taiwan. I had thought the non-renewal was an honest and ill-conceptualized attempt to force news channels to adopt higher standards. I am starting to think my colleagues are right.

For the GIO to say, “we’re simply doing our job” is predictable and an understandable rationalization for considering the revocation of TVBS’s license on the grounds that it is foreign-owned (by Hong Kong interests). A DPP lawmaker was quoted in the Taipei Times today as saying “We refuse to tolerate any intimidation exerted by a media outlet that is entirely controlled and financed by Chinese investors” (article here). The way I read this, he is saying that the GIO is being asked to put pressure on TVBS because it dares to criticize the government (and by extension, the DPP). To all who share this view, I say: Grow some more layers of skin and learn to truly respect the freedom of the press. Taiwan simply won’t be taken seriously internationally if it fails to exhibit sincerity when it claims to embrace press freedom.

I’m not taking a stand on whether or not TVBS should be licensed in Taiwan, but the way this issue was raised is all wrong.

Update (a few minutes later): I just finished posting this and immediately came across this article in Chinese. It says that President Chen said today that no media outlets were going to be pulled on his watch – as an expression of his commitment to press freedom. That’s more like it. I hope DPP rank and file politicians take note.

Update (11/8): This is a bit dated, but it’s the first I’ve noticed of an international press freedom organization mentioning the TVBS situation. In this case the International Federation of Journalists. I have to say I’m not that impressed with the accuracy of IFJ and RSF (Reporters without Borders) commentaries.


Michael Turton said...

Did you see the TT today? This investigation has been ongoing since August! If the idiots had announced it then, they'd be bulletproof on the reprisal allegations.

Pasuya Yao of the GIO needs to be sent packing to someplace where he is forced to listen to ICRT DJs' patter for the rest of his natural days.


Rank Beginner said...

That would have helped. But it would have been even more prudent if the GIO had actually looked into TVBS ownership when the station's license was up for renewalbefore August.