Media groups at home and abroad have raised concern over the issue of “embedded” Chinese advertisements in Taiwanese newspapers.
Freedom House, a Washington-based think tank, on Tuesday released its Freedom of the Press 2012 report, which saw Taiwan’s ranking move up one notch to 47.
While the report said Taiwan’s media environment remained one of the freest in Asia and boasted a vigorous and diverse press that reports aggressively on government policies and alleged official wrongdoing, it said there continue to be incidents of news content produced by China’s state-run media outlets appearing in Taiwanese newspapers “under less than transparent conditions.”
It cited positive developments, such as the passage of legal amendments designed to curtail a practice in which government promotional material is disguised as news, but added that during the past year, “media freedom watchdogs raised concerns about the use of criminal defamation laws against a journalist and blogger, as well as a proposed merger that could reduce media diversity.”
The issue of “embedding” Chinese advertisements in local newspapers was also brought up on Tuesday by the Taipei-based Foundation for the Advancement of Media Excellence.
A survey of the reports published in March in five Chinese-language dailies found that four of them carried between one and eight Chinese advertisements in their reports. The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) was the only one that did not.
Some newspapers dedicated stories to covering in detail the schedules of visiting Chinese officials and surreptitiously placed ads in the stories, the foundation said, urging media outlets to practice self-discipline and adopt professional ethics.
The Mainland Affairs Council has said that any Chinese advertisements that are not legally permitted in Taiwan should not be embedded in reports.