In response to complaints over gangster footage directed and filmed by a former TVBS reporter, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said on Friday that TVBS and TVBS-N would each be fined NT$1 million (US$30,200) and that TVBS must replace general manager Lee Tao (
TVBS previously falsely reported that slaughterhouse workers removed duck feathers with tar, reports which led to a drastic decline in duck sales. TVBS' approach to "news" gathering is all too clear, and in this light the penalty may seem lenient.
The potential for harm when reporters lack professional ethics and a sense of responsibility is considerable. The footage of a "gangster" threatening another crime figure was proof enough that the lack of ethics in the media extends up and down the chain of command.
If TVBS had exercised genuine quality control, the offending material could and would have been identified and dealt with at one of several points in the editing process. But when everyone, from reporters to upper management, disregards these responsibilities, it becomes not the problem of one reporter but of the whole editorial process.
TVBS portrayed this material as an exclusive news story and sensationalized it at every opportunity. To make matters worse, all other TV news stations followed suit, suggesting that the problem does not stop with individuals or individual companies.
Because TV stations are guided by ratings and compelled to act by no-holds-barred competition, fabricated and manipulated news stories have become increasingly apparent in recent years. Digital manipulation of images, sound effects, music, cartoons and other effects are used. When interviews become difficult to produce, actors are used to reenact a piece of news.
As long as ratings are delivered, electronic media will come up with innovative ways of sensationalizing news material. This may begin with managers "directing" reporters what to do, but reporters soon learn what management wants and will do whatever is required to make a story "newsworthy," regardless of its merit.
Viewers will have their own opinions of whether the NCC's treatment of TVBS was appropriate, but we must take a pessimistic view.
The NCC's ability to put an end to this unhealthy competition is compromised by the fact that it is an illegitimate, partisan body, and has been declared unconstitutional by the Council of Grand Justices.
Even if it could be taken seriously as an agency, past administrative punishments, such as fines and the suspension of TV programs, have only been temporarily effective. As soon as a TV station faces ratings pressure, it tends to fall back into its old ways.
In the end, it is down to viewers to vote with their remote controls instead of clucking their tongues. Viewers have the power to change channels and refuse to watch these types of news programs.
In the meantime, the prospects in the medium term of having a non-partisan media regulator established are dim. Viewers therefore will consume what they ask for, and have little right to criticize the government if they persist in supporting deceptive journalism by tuning into stations that peddle it.
China has long sought shortcuts to developing semiconductor technologies and local supply chains by poaching engineers and experts from Taiwan and other nations. It is also suspected of stealing trade secrets from Taiwanese and US firms to fulfill its ambition of becoming a major player in the global semiconductor industry in the next decade. However, it takes more than just money and talent to build a semiconductor supply chain like the one which Taiwan and the US started to cultivate more than 30 years ago. Amid rising trade and technology tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, Beijing has become
With a new White House document in May — the “Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China” — the administration of US President Donald Trump has firmly set its hyper-competitive line to tackle geoeconomic and geostrategic rivalry, followed by several reinforcing speeches by Trump and other Cabinet-level officials. By identifying China as a near-equal rival, the strategy resonates well with the bipartisan consensus on China in today’s severely divided US. In the face of China’s rapidly growing aggression, the move is long overdue, yet relevant for the maintenance of the international “status quo.” The strategy seems to herald a new
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Toward the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) final term in office, there was much talk about his legacy. Ma himself would likely prefer history books to enshrine his achievements in reducing cross-strait tensions. He might see his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore in 2015 as the high point. However, given his statements in the past few months, he might be remembered more for contributing to the breakup of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). We are still talking about Ma and his legacy because it is inextricably tied to the so-called “1992 consensus” as the bedrock of his