On Nov. 22, the Public Television Service (PTS) Directors and Supervisors Review Committee -- elected by the legislature -- passed nominations for the PTS' fourth board of directors and supervisors.
On close examination of the procedure for selecting candidates for the PTS board, which is responsible for the development of the domestic film and television industries, it's clear the decision-making process is absurd.
After the list with director and supervisor nominees was published, some nominees said that they didn't even know they had been put on the list. The press release published by the Government Information Office (GIO) on Nov. 22 said that the GIO would first investigate whether the people nominated by the Review Committee were interested in the position before asking the Cabinet to officially appoint them. In other words, in drawing up the list, the GIO didn't even ask the nominees if they were interested.
This was a waste of time and shows disregard for the importance of the task and a profound lack of respect for the people involved. The list had to be double-checked because if any nominee does not want the job, the committee must come up with a replacement candidate.
In addition, the list of nominees included people who in the past publicly opposed the establishment of the Taiwan Broadcasting System (TBS). For these people to be nominated by the Cabinet for the board of directors and supervisors -- and for them to pass the review by the legislative committee -- sounds like a bad joke.
Why would the Cabinet even compile a list with TBS opponents? What are the legislature's review criteria and procedures? None of this is clear.
The Review Committee set up by the legislature is supposed to consist of impartial private individuals, yet includes two legislators. This greatly diminishes the impartiality of the review process. Even though these two legislators are highly regarded and would perhaps be able to exercise their duties impartially, it is unacceptable to nominate a sitting legislator as an impartial private individual.
In 2001, then New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (
There have also been reports that some people skipped review meetings, while others left in protest of the fact that they were not given the list of nominees prior to the meeting, which would have allowed time for necessary preparations.
Finally, the background of some of the nominees has led to skepticism about the impartiality of the review process.
On the whole, as is stipulated in the Public Television Act (
But because of the grave problems with the review process, we cannot be sure that the new directors will identify with the idea of a public broadcasting system or that the director will have the determination to defend the value of public broadcasting.
The Cabinet and legislature must explain the details of the review process and explain the justification for seemingly inappropriate nominations.
The Cabinet and legislature also need to amend the Act and improve the board director nomination and review process, organizational responsibility and other issues.
Labor representatives should also be put on the board to protect labor rights and ensure the spirit of democracy in the workplace.
More transparency is a must for the upcoming chairman election and selection of the PTS president.
Anyone interested in the positions should be ready to explain publicly why they would be suited to the job and what goals they would work for.
A good candidate must be ready to push for amendments to the Public Television Law (公共電視法), integrate TBS, resist interference by outside forces, protect the values of public broadcasting and include more social forces in the planning and monitoring of the development of public broadcasting media. When looking for a president, the process should be public and transparent and the opinions of people working for TBS should be respected.
Kuan Chung-hsiang is president of Media Watch and assistant professor at the Department of Radio, Television and Film at Shih Hsin University. Lo Shih-hung is convener of the Campaign for Media Reform and associate professor in the Department of Communications at National Chung Cheng University.
Translated by Anna Stiggelbout
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