Fri, Apr 05, 2013 - Page 1 News List

‘Untruthful’ news content still tops list of complaints

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

“Untruthful or unfair news content” remained the No. 1 source of complaints about the broadcast media last year, the same as 2011, the National Communications Commission’s (NCC) communication content report showed.

The commission received a total of 2,674 complaints about broadcasting content last year, of which 494 cases were related to alleged untruthful or unfair broadcasting content.

In addition, there were 439 cases in which people conveyed their opinions about the overall communications environment, policy and regulations. They include the necessity of regulating political commentators, reducing negative news coverage and the practice of product placement, increasing international news coverage and lowering program rerun rates.

The commission’s communication content department director Jason Ho (何吉森) said the complaints about untruthful or unfair media contents were mainly directed at TV news and political talk shows.

“Commentaries conveyed through these programs involve freedom of speech and the commission tried not to intervene, exercising maximum tolerance,” Ho said.

“Many legislators have also expressed concerns that television news is becoming more like ‘infotainment,’ in view of recent news coverage of crimes. However, we hope that television stations can exercise self-discipline in this regard,” he added.

Ho said that if passed, the commission’s proposed act on preventing monopolization of the media and preserving diversity (廣播電視壟斷防治與多元維護法) will require broadcast media to list self-disciplinary clauses in their program production guidelines.

Other complaints include that TV stations failed to maintain a clear distinction between programs and advertisements, or aired content detrimental to the mental health of children and youth, or infringing on public order.

Nevertheless, the report showed that the number of complaints received last year had dropped 44.5 percent compared with 2011, which the commission attributed to the new “frequently asked questions” section on its Web site.

About 94 percent of the complaints were about television content, whereas only 2.9 percent were about content broadcast over the radio.

The Watch Internet Network (WIN), a private organization funded by the commission, reported 8,914 complaints about Internet content last year — three times more than the number of complaints filed over broadcasting content.

The report also showed that the commission received about NT$27.4 million (US$914,308) from penalties leveled against violators of media laws last year, which was 53 percent lower than in 2011.

No TV channel accumulated more than 10 violations.

Though failure to maintain a clear distinction between television programs and commercials was still ranked the No.1 reason for punishment last year, the total fines collected by the commission in this category of violation were down 50.4 percent compared with 2011, at NT$15.59 million.

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