Sat, Dec 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Pan-blues show true colors at NCC review

By Chen I-shen 陳儀深

The review committee of the National Communications Commission (NCC) held its public hearings for nominees between Dec. 9 and Dec. 11. As one of the 11 committee members, I witnessed the pan-blue camp's maneuvers. The pro-blue reviewers, who tried to assert their professionalism during the review process, talked the talk, but did not walk the walk.

According to the Organic Law of the National Communications Commission (國家通訊傳播委員會組織法), which was signed into law by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Nov. 9, the NCC will take over from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Government Information Office as the authority in charge of issuing or renewing media licenses, enacting media regulations and meting out punishment.

Despite the significance of the NCC's establishment, the local media did not pay much attention to the three-day review process. Perhaps it was a result of the structure of the review committee, which was made up of six pro-blue and five pro-green reviewers. Since the law states that a nominee needs just more than half of the votes in the second round of the review process, it became a power struggle among the political parties. Did the media pay so little attention to the review process because it was superficial?

In fact, some reviewers had already sent questions to the nominees and received written answers beforehand. Also, the review process was open to the public and broadcast online in real time. It was transparent, rational and serious.

Three consensuses were reached during the process. First, the excessive number of TV news stations and their pursuit of ratings have often damaged quality. Second, the NCC is an independent body -- unlike the Fair Trade Commission, the NCC members do not have to attend meetings of the Executive Yuan. Third, the digital gap should be narrowed to bridge the gap between different social classes as well as urban and rural areas.

Still, in terms of unlicensed radio stations, the pan-blue camp's reviewers were mostly in favor of a crackdown disregarding historical factors and realistic obstacles, and I repeatedly opposed this. There were also several debates on the restriction against foreign capital in the media, and most reviewers agreed that it is acceptable to limit foreign investment on scarce wireless frequencies and telecommunication networks for the sake of national security, public order and local culture.

But when the reviewers cast their ballots, the pan-blue camp's reviewers had reached an agreement in advance to vote for just nine nominees, while the pan-green camp's reviewers kindly voted for 13 nominees. As a result, almost all the pan-blue camp's nominees passed the threshold in the first round, except for Lee Tzu-yuan (李祖源), former general manager of the Broadcasting Corp of China, who had been nominated by the People First Party (PFP). National Chiao Tung University professor Lin Yi-bing (林一平) and National Chengchi University professor Liu Zong-de (劉宗德) even got the committee's full support by winning 11 votes each.

As for the pan-green camp's nominees, National Dong Hwa University professor Howard Shyr (石世豪) and National Chengchi University professor Weng Shieu-chi (翁秀琪) passed by winning eight and seven votes respectively. Nominees who needed to win more than half the votes in the second round had to rely on the mercy of the pan-blue camp's reviewers.

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