Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: TVBS operates on Chinese capital

It is ridiculous that some Taiwanese do not even know that Hong Kong has reverted to Chinese control, and that they still regard the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as an area ruled by the UK and the people of Hong Kong, as it was prior to 1997.

Some also believe that capital from Hong Kong does not constitute foreign investment, and that Hong Kong-based companies can legally run cable TV stations in Taiwan. Some pan-blue legislators have even quoted what the Mainland Affairs Council in 1997 defined as a Hong Kong company, and believe that the TVBS cable TV station is not a foreign-owned company. Clearly, such an interpretation is already outdated and does not relate to the current situation. These pan-blue politicians should stop hoodwinking themselves.

Although some of Hong Kong's residents withdrew their capital from the territory when it reverted to China in 1997, many did not, as Beijing had promised that the economic system would remain unchanged for 50 years. However, Beijing's promise turned out to be a pack of lies. Hong Kong's capital is certainly China's capital, for it is China that is now governing the region.

A new controversy has arisen in the case of TVBS, a Taiwanese cable TV channel which draws its capital from two business groups in Hong Kong. According to Article 10 of the Satellite Radio and TV Broadcasting Law (衛星廣播電視法), foreign direct investment in a local television station should not exceed 50 percent of its total stake, which puts TVBS in clear violation of the law.

The channel should certainly accept this, and quickly improve its company structure in accordance with the law, instead of complaining about political oppression and challenging the government by saying stupid things like "Chinese capital? So what?" Otherwise, what is the difference between TVBS general manager Lee Tao (李濤) and common criminals? Law is law; politics is politics. Whether TVBS has taken the Chinese government's money to promote Beijing's united-front strategy is a political question involving national security and should be investigated by the relevant government agencies. The channel should face legislators' doubts in a frank and sincere manner, rather than boycotting the government's review of its license. The fact that it is 100 percent funded by Chinese capital cannot be erased by the pan-blue lawmakers' threat to launch a million-people street demonstration.

TVBS exposed convincing evidence concerning former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan's (陳哲男) lying about his secret trip to South Korea. TVBS' move to disclose the truth was admired by the public, forcing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to offer a public apology on Sunday over the scandal. TVBS' worth should be recognized. But what does this have to do with the question of its shareholder structure and source of capital? Public trust in the media should not be put under suspicion. TVBS in theory should ask for a review by the Government Information Office (GIO), which would promote its professional image of pursuing fairness and justice, as well as highlighting the unreasonableness of some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers' accusations. However, TVBS has responded by trying to obstruct government regulations. This is a pity.

Despite opposition lawmakers' claims to the contrary, Taiwan is a nation in which freedom of speech is largely safeguarded. Otherwise, the DPP administration would not have received so much criticism from the public. Therefore, the GIO's continued investigation into TVBS' shareholder structure and source of capital is just. It has nothing to do with oppressing press freedom.

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