PTS issue more than meets the eye

By Liu Chin-hsin 劉進興  / 

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 - Page 8

On Jan. 19, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) ran an article by Campaign for Media Reform representative Chiu Chia-yi (邱家宜) in which she asked why the committee reviewing nominations for the board of directors and board of supervisors at Public Television Service (PTS) did not vote in an open ballot, and lamented that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had neglected to include any representatives of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in its list of review committee nominees.

Chiu also criticized the review committee members nominated by the pan-green camp for not supporting PTS research fellow Hamilton Cheng (程宗明), who had been nominated by the Union of Public Television Service (UPTS). Chiu concluded that members recommended by both the pan-blue and the pan-green camps did not come out too well from this situation.

I do not agree with open ballots. Votes on personnel appointments generally are not open ballots, to protect the voter from pressure on how to vote, and make corruption more difficult. To abandon this principle for one ballot would have repercussions in later ballots.

For the same reason, the threshold vote for passing a board member should not be lowered just to expedite the nominations process. If the threshold had been lowered to 50 percent, the KMT would have had a free hand to pass whoever it wanted.

The six committee members nominated by the pan-green camp made public the list of 10 nominees that were unanimously supported to avoid a repeat performance of the previous time, when the KMT-nominated members opposed the nominations of National Chung Cheng University (NCCU) communications professor Lo Shih-hung (羅世宏), NCCU associate professor Hu Yuan-hui (胡元輝) and former Independence Evening Post reporter Hsu Lu (徐璐), while trying to blame us for doing so.

At the same time, we also explained our reasons for not supporting the other nominees.

We could not support former Want Want China Times Group general manager Huang Chao-sung (黃肇松), as he has said in the past that he accepts embedded marketing and infomercials for practical reasons.

Neither could we support Soochow University adjunct professor of law Nigel Li (李念祖), as he has defended the Want Want China Times Group in the recent media monopoly controversy.

Lastly, we could not support either PTS chairwoman Chao Ya-ly (趙雅麗) or Hamilton Cheng, as they have both been involved in PTS board infighting in the past, and we would prefer to avoid a repeat of this within the new board.

According to Chiu’s article, Cheng was nominated by the UPTS, and as such should not be rejected, as his nomination was mandated within the industry. She should also think about whether PTS serves the public as a whole or just the UPTS.

Also, is it not true that the union president was holding a joint press conference with former Cabinet secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) at the legislature in 2009, just as the building was surrounded by a mass protest against amendments to the Public Television Act (公共電視法), pushed through by the KMT, that risked the independence of PTS by allowing the hasty appointment of eight additional board members?

When there is a conflict of interest between the union and PTS, such as when the interests of state-owned enterprise unions clash with those of the wider public over social justice, which side would the UPTS take?

The review process has already taken two years. There are those who do not care about the details and only want us to clear the nominees, irrespective of whether they are suitable.

However, the first nominations list included Chen Sheng-fu (陳勝福), suggested by Lin Yi-shih. The second list did not have a single representative of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

It is because some members of the review committee took their responsibilities seriously, and thanks to the checks and balances in place, that the third list was slightly more representative and inclusive.

We want this list passed, but the KMT-nominated members have closed down the nominations of 4-Way Voice chief editor Chang Cheng (張正) and former radio broadcaster Liu Ming (劉銘) — who would have represented the voice of the disadvantaged; academics Lin Li-yun (林麗雲), director of National Taiwan University’s School of Journalism, and National Chengchi University Department of Journalism associate professor Liu Chang-de (劉昌德) and Olympic bronze medalist Chi Cheng (紀政), who is a household name.

Not one of them voted for Chi: Was this coincidence, or the result of directives from on high?

We will continue to resist, and to make sure that people can see the true face of the KMT. But don’t just look at the PTS boards review process, look beyond to what is happening as the whole country is being subjected to the same kind of treatment and abuse.

Pay no heed to those who would have you believe that all this wrangling is just about fighting between the pan-blue and pan-green camps. A friend of mine said it well: Blaming these disagreements purely on the struggle between the pan-blue and pan-green camps is reactionary, and conceals the true nature of what is going on. As such it should be disregarded.

Liu Chin-hsin is a member of the review committee for the Public Television Service board of directors and board of supervisors.

Translated by Paul Cooper