Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Video gangster nabbed as outcry grows

MEDIA STANDARDS Chou Cheng-pao was arrested in Nantou County as the debate over what should happen to the news stations that broadcast his video raged on

By Jimmy Chuang and Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A wanted criminal who recently appeared in a controversial cable TV broadcast threatening to murder a rival has been arrested, the National Police Agency said yesterday.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau's Sixth Division Captain Chi Ming-mou (紀明謀) said Chou Cheng-pao (周政保) was apprehended at a hideout between Tsaotun Township (草屯) and Wurih Township (烏日) in Nantou County at around 4:30pm yesterday.

Chou was found in possession of a bulletproof vest and four replica guns, two rifles and two pistols, Chi said.

"We will try to figure out the details of the case, including how he [Chou] contacted TVBS Nantou reporter Shih Chen-kang (史鎮康)," Chi said.

Chou was immediately escorted to Taichung City Police Department's Second Precinct for questioning. As of press time yesterday, he was still being questioned.

Chou had sparked concern over public security after appearing in a "homemade" video sitting behind a table on which two M-16 rifles and two handguns were displayed. In the video, Chou threatened to shoot his gang boss, Liu Jui-jung (劉瑞榮).

The video was aired by TVBS on Monday and labeled as a "scoop." At the time, TVBS said the video had been sent in by Chou.

But the station admitted on Wednesday night that Chou's video had been shot by Shih. The station subsequently fired Shih and his superior, chief correspondent Chang Yu-kun (張裕坤).

Taichung District Prosecutors' Office issued a summons for Shih and Chang late on Wednesday night. Shih was released on NT$100,000 bail while Chang was released late yesterday without any restrictions after questioning.

Whether Chou had asked Shih for help, or Shih had instigated the entire episode and asked Chou to "act" in the video would be the main point of the investigation now that Chou was in custody, police said.

National Police Agency Director-General Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said that the police had discovered something unusual during reviews of the tape on Tuesday and speculated that media professionals might have been involved in the film, but added they lacked evidence.

"We interviewed witnesses and discovered that there were four people at the scene when the video was filmed," Hou said. "We also found that the photographer must have been a professional cameraman as he had left enough head and shoulder room in the film."

Hou added that TVBS contacted him on Wednesday to say that an internal review by the station had discovered the truth.

Meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday that "the government would not allow the media to create such chaos."

"I am so upset," Su said at a press conference called to assuage public concern. "No matter how hard we work to improve public order and reduce crime rates, one video like this can destroy all our efforts."

The National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday the station would receive harsh punishment for the incident.

"But other news stations should not think this incident has nothing to do with them," said NCC spokesperson Howard Shyr (石世豪). "They are also at fault for showing the same footage."

The commission issued official documents to 11 major TV stations, asking them to dispatch representatives to brief members of a special taskforce formed by NCC-authorized media experts.

Based on the NCC's records for news stations, content on TVBS or TVBS-N has never been ruled as disruptive to social order or failed to observe the content-rating system during the past year.

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