Mon, Nov 05, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Help to campaign for citizens' TV

The Alliance for the Democratization of Terrestrial TV

As the UN is preparing for its Eighth World TV Forum, (世界電視論壇), the Alliance for the Democratization of Terrestrial TV (referring to ground-based TV, using only earthbound signals and antennae) is escalating its campaign activities in Taiwan. The body is a knowledge-based organization working for reforms in the field of TV programs.

It was founded by a group of 117 media scholars, students and workers from Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Hualien -- on Nov. 19 last year, shortly after the UN's Seventh World TV Forum.

Why we exist

The organization's reasons for coming into existence are these:

Public television was established more than 30 years ago in South Korea, Singapore, and the US, and more than 50 years ago in Japan and Western Europe. Yet public TV just completed only its third year in Taiwan.

Taiwan's government-sector investment in television, when translated into actual purchasing power, amounts to only a twentieth of that of Western Europe and Japan, one sixth of that of South Korea and Singapore -- and half of the amount spent by the US.

The organization wants to help TTV (台視), CTS (華視) and the Public Television Service (PTS, 公視) to establish a public TV group -- a move that will keep the nation in step with developed countries.

This work will be carried out in two stages. In the first stage, the government will not allocate any money to the stations. The three TV stations would be coordinated by the Government Information Office (新聞局), which would give guidelines for differentiating between public and private shareholder rights and responsibilities. The office will also promote the flow of resources, raise efficiency levels, establish a working rapport and cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual trust.

The second stage will see the purchasing of privately owned TTV and CTS shares, the amendment of existing laws and the establishment of a public television group. It will also see the completion of the division of labor between the three stations. TTV and CTS will carry commercials and the government won't provide budgets for them. PTS will continue operations in the same way it does now.

The organization also has plans for the management of these two stages.

During the first stage, management would remain the same as it is now. In the second stage, the relevant government authorities would coordinate the three stations and -- following outside recommendations -- work out guidelines. The management will be generated according to professional ability.

Taiwan has been successful in advancing democracy. It is also making progress in the establishment of checks and balances between political parties as well as media supervision. Improper political interference in the TV media will invite criticism at every turn and is not sustainable in the long run.

We believe it's urgent for Taiwan to have a public television group as:

The latest figures show that last year, revenues generated by advertisements on the four terrestrial TV stations totalled NT$13 billion, averaging more than NT$3 billion per station. Total revenue for cable TV stations was NT$17.6 billion, averaging NT$200 to NT$300 million per station.

Although terrestrial TV stations still have the advantage, it is gradually slipping away. If no adjustments are made, the situation will go from bad to worse.

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