Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - Page 8 News List

KMT caucus meddling in PTS board selection

By Wei Ti 魏玓

The legislature has formed a review committee for the by-election of the board of the Public Television Service (PTS) Foundation. The committee members proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) include four KMT legislators — Diane Lee (李慶安), Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) and Kuo Su-chun (郭素春).

This is a clear violation of Article 13 of the Public Television Act (公共電視法), which states: “The Legislative Yuan shall recommend 11 to 13 just and fair people from society to form the PTS Directors and Supervisors Review Committee.”

The law is designed to maintain the independence of PTS staff and exclude the legislature from directly interfering in staff reviews. The KMT is clearly breaking the law.

Not only that, since the government of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power, it has been passive and has not presented any plan to promote PTS or other radio or TV stations. Instead, the public has only witnessed questionable and inappropriate interference in the personnel affairs of public media outlets. This raises fears that the KMT is returning to its old ways when it comes to its media policies.

This is not the first time that the KMT caucus has violated the law. When the legislature reviewed the nominees for the PTS board last November, the KMT-appointed committee members were Kung and Su Chi (蘇起), drawing criticism from media reform organizations.

At the time, the criticism against the whole nomination and review process included criticism of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for adopting a low-key, closed-door approach. Both the KMT and DPP are guilty of manipulating PTS personnel affairs.

Unfortunately, since the KMT returned to power, it has not only neglected to correct the DPP’s faults, but it is repeating them by attempting to appoint four legislators as committee members.

Since Ma came to power, he has been troubled by the global financial crisis and several natural and manmade disasters, which have stirred public discontent. However, the success of the local movie Cape No. 7 (海角七號) is evidence that developing the cultural and media industries is the easiest way to make an impact. These two industries also have the best economic potential and are most effective when it comes to stabilizing and calming the social and cultural environment.

If only the Ma administration could break the old authoritarian habit of interfering with the media and show that its policies are superior to the DPP’s by quickly proposing concrete, effective and visionary media policies, it might still be able to save its falling approval ratings.

On the other hand, misguided media and cultural policies would have an extremely negative effect, probably far beyond anything the Ma administration could imagine.

Wei Ti is an assistant professor at National Chiao Tung University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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