Wed, Jul 07, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Media 'revolution' is no easy task

By Ku Er-teh顧爾德

At this point we are faced with the problem of clarifying the line between public and political interests on the one hand and the political and public spheres on the other. What is even more important, however, is to realize the difference between liberalism and radical social democracy.

Liberals do not trust those holding political power. They worry that power corrupts and harms civil rights. They will not believe that the government wants to turn the media into independent public service corporations, but rather that the government wants to use them as an opportunity to weaken the opposition and monopolize power.

Radical social democrats believe that, in addition to politics, there is a public sphere that belongs to the citizenry. They believe that turning media into independent public service corporations is different from nationalization; the interests and will of society should be neither controlled nor represented by political forces.

Liberals sneer at this in the belief that it is but a myth invented by a political mob to encourage populism, and that turning media into independent public service corporations is inferior to the market mechanism.

Academics proposing that media be turned into independent public service corporations have noted the experiences of other countries in order to prove that there are successful examples of such a transformation. It is very difficult for them to make sure that these opinions reach the main group whose rights they want to protect -- the TV audience.

Lin believes that an attempt should be made to turn TV-stations into independent public service corporations, and that if it fails, at least people won't be able to say he didn't try. Academics in favor of the creation of public service corporations should push the government into organizing a public television foundation built on idealism, vision and able management. They should also encourage public participation.

If the "revolution" fails, we can join the likes of US economist Milton Friedman and let market forces supervise politics. If we do not, we have to quietly accept yet another Chiang Hsia.

Ku Er-teh is a freelance writer.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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