ICRT responds to criticism
It was with great dismay and disappointment that we read Chou Long’s letter (Letters, April 14, page 8) and his criticism of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT). ICRT is committed to serving the public, and we welcome comments and suggestions any time. In regards to Chou Long’s letter, there are numerous errors that need to be addressed.
First, ICRT is not “owned” by any individual or family. ICRT was established in 1979 when the US military pulled out of Taiwan. AmCham [the American Chamber of Commerce] and others in the international community lobbied the US and Taiwanese governments to maintain the operation of Armed Forces Radio Taiwan. In response, the Taipei International Community Cultural Foundation (TICCF) was established as a non-profit foundation to run the station. The TICCF’s board of directors has always included local and foreign business and community leaders who all share a common goal: maintaining English-language broadcasts in Taiwan. None of the board members have ever received any remuneration, nor been involved in the station’s day-to-day operation.
Today, ICRT is completely self-supporting, and does not receive any funding from the government.
Second, ICRT has never attempted to become a Mandarin-language station. ICRT’s mandate is twofold: to serve the international community and act as a bridge to the local community. We fulfill this mandate through local and international news reports, entertaining music from around the world, community interviews and announcements, events and activities promoting cross-cultural understanding, as well as fun and educational programs. ICRT maintains close communications with the international community, including business groups, international schools, diplomatic missions and community organizations.
Finally, Chou’s letter reveals a lack of understanding of ICRT and the global media market.
The radio industry has changed drastically over the past two decades, and any broadcaster that neglects to keep pace will only fail. With fewer advertising dollars, we have had to make some difficult decisions, but we have never lost sight of our mandate.
More recently, ICRT has worked to increase the quality of its news and brought back weekend newscasts. We are always on standby in the event of inclement weather or natural disasters to provide accurate and up-to-date information. This is a critical mission that we have never neglected. Music has always been an important element of ICRT programming, and is not a recent addition.
ICRT has taken steps to improve programming quality to better meet the tastes of our core audience: 20-to-40-year-old professionals, office workers and college students, as well as the international community. Our on-air talent includes people from various English-speaking nations, as well as local Taiwanese. Many of the programming elements that Chou ridicules have been well received by our audience. Taste is very subjective.
Despite growing competition for our audience’s attention, including a proliferation of radio and TV broadcasters and the rise of the Internet, ICRT has maintained its overall market ratings and ranking, demonstrating continued support from the public.
Filipinos in support of ICRT
My two cents is that Chou Long and Anthony Van Dyck’s views of ICRT are quite different from those of members of Taiwan’s Filipino community. Thanks to the wonderful efforts of Emily David, ICRT has successfully transformed itself into a medium that Filipinos rely on. News from the US is not a top priority for Filipinos listening to the radio — pop songs that lighten the burden of housework or factory labor are essential and ICRT fills that need.