The Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper yesterday apologized over the controversy surrounding the new “News-in-Motion” section on its Web site and said it had removed videos containing controversial scenes.
“We apologize for upsetting the public because of certain content in our News-in-Motion video clips,” Apple Daily editor-in-chief Jesse Ma (馬維敏) told a news conference after meeting representatives of civic groups protesting outside its headquarters in Taipei.
News-in-Motion is a new feature on the newspaper’s Web site that gives detailed descriptions of news items using film and animated videos.
“To show our sincerity, we immediately removed video clips with controversial content,” he said. “From now on, the News-in-Motion section will refrain from presenting possibly controversial news items in an overly realistic way.”
However, Ma said the newspaper would retain the feature and urged the public to respect its innovative presentation of news items.
Civic groups have expressed concern that videos showing details of sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence and child abuse could cause further psychological injury to victims and have a negative impact on children with access to the videos online.
“I would like to ask [Apple Daily publisher] Jimmy Lai [黎智英] how he would feel if his own daughter were a victim of sexual assault and media outlets showed every detail of it in an animated video,” Awakening Foundation executive director Tseng Chao-yuan told reporters outside the newspaper’s headquarters.
Taipei Teachers’ Association chairman Chang Wen-chang (張文昌) said he was concerned that children might imitate what they see in the clips.
“I’m not against freedom of the press, but how would you feel if your own kids watched these videos?” he said.
Several college journalism students also joined the protest.
Shelly Lu (呂紹玉), a sophomore journalism major at National Chengchi University, said she did not consider News-in-Motion news, “because it is more like cartoons with violent content.”
“Viewers may be misled by animated videos aimed at re-establishing the scene,” she said.
In response to Ma’s remarks, Tseng said the civic groups were very disappointed that the Apple Daily had not explicitly promised not to portray scenes of sexual assault, sexual harassment, child abuse and domestic violence in its animated videos.
She said the groups would continue to discuss the issue with the newspaper.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday that Next Media Ltd (壹傳媒集團), publisher of the Apple Daily, would be fined an additional NT$500,000 for continuing to offer sensational content.
The city government on Wednesday fined the Apple Daily NT$500,000 for violating the media classification regulations in the Children and Juveniles Welfare Act (兒童及青少年福利法).
Hau said the city government would ask all schools in the city to cancel their subscriptions to the paper, as it contained a code enabling free downloads of News-in-Motion clips to cellphones.
“We will continue monitoring the situation and hand out more fines if the situation does not improve,” Hau said.
Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) encouraged people to report any inappropriate News-in-Motion content to the government.
Su quoted Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) as saying government officials should integrate their efforts to bring the controversial feature into compliance.