Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 1 News List

New rules keep politics out of media

REFORM Amendments to a number of laws mean that politicians will no longer be able to wield the influence they used to over broadcast media

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature yesterday passed amendments to three broadcasting laws, fulfilling the government's goal of eliminating political influence from broadcast media.

The Legislative Yuan passed amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Law (廣播電視法), the Cable Television Law (有線廣播電視法) and the Satellite Broadcasting Law (衛星廣播電視法), banning the government and political parties from involvement in private radio and TV stations. Politicians are also banned from investing in broadcasters.

The government and political parties will have two years to sell their shares in private broadcasters, according to the amended Broadcasting and Television Law.

Government agencies have six months to draft regulations on how the shares should be disposed of, and an ad hoc commission comprising legislative representatives from various parties and media professionals will oversee the process. The regulations must get legislative approval.

Politicians, including the staff of political parties, government personnel and elected officials, are obliged to resign their posts as shareholder, owner or manager in media organizations within six months of the amendments taking effect.

The revisions also set restrictions on the media interests of politicians' families.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) said the next step in media reform would be to ban politicians from hosting shows.

"The next mission of advocates for a neutral media environment is demanding that the four legislators who host TV programs and 11 others who host radio shows quit their media posts and cease their dual role in politics and the media," Lo said after the amendments passed.

Lo said the passage of amendments was a major legislative achievement based on the cooperation of all parties.

"The only blemish was that the amendments do not regulate all kinds of politicians' conduct in the media industry," Lo said. "The controversy over political parties funding TV programs is one case, in addition to the problem that current statutes do not settle the dispute about politicians hosting programs in the media industry."

The revised Broadcasting and Television Law creates a National Communications Commission (NCC, 國家通訊傳播委員會) to oversee the broadcast media industry. It will take over functions currently undertaken by the Government Information Office and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The new commission will be set up within a year.

The new amendments also spell the end of A-bian Portrait (阿扁傳真), produced by the Presidential Office and presented by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

According to an article proposed by KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), radio, TV and cable TV stations will be prohibited from broadcasting programs funded or produced by the government for election candidates.

Chen is seeking re-election in next year's presidential vote.

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