Sun, Apr 14, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Culture minister urges soft power boost

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwan should increase efforts to foster creativity and boost the nation’s soft power in the face of China’s rapid development in the arts sphere, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said yesterday, urging the government to recognize China’s strength in this regard amid a recent frenzy over a Chinese TV show.

The show, I Am A Singer (我是歌手), is a Hunan TV contest featuring professional singers including well-known Taiwanese artists, such as Terry Lin (林志炫) and Aska Yang (楊宗緯).

It has become one of the most talked-about TV shows in China and created a media frenzy in Taiwan as Lin, Yang and several other Taiwanese singers boosted their popularity after appearing on the show.

Several TV stations in Taiwan replaced news and political talk shows on Friday night with a live broadcast of the show’s first season finale, prompting debate over whether the show was getting too much airtime in Taiwan.

In response to media questions about I Am A Singer’s popularity, Lung said that while it demonstrated China’s huge investment in pop culture shows and show business talent, it also reflected the strength of Taiwanese singers in terms of performance and songwriting skills.

“Many Chinese singers picked songs written by Taiwanese songwriters, so the show tells us that Taiwan is ahead of China and the Chinese community in culture and creativity,” she said on the sidelines of an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Taipei Story House.

“What we should be concerned about is whether we will still be the best in 30 years,” Lung said.

She said the ministry will reinforce its efforts to create a better environment for local artists, and help local singers and musicians to shine on the international stage.

She also said the signing of a cross-strait agreement on intellectual property rights cooperation and protection during the fifth round of negotiations on the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is crucial because the fruit of local artists’ creativity should be protected, and the ministry will work with artists to increase the economic value of their intellectual property.

“We cannot compete with China in terms of capital investment. We should think about how to maintain our competitiveness via other policies,” she said.

The National Communications Commission, for example, relaxed regulations on placement marketing last year to allow product placement and the sponsorship of TV programs, except for news and children’s shows.

The commission expected the measure to stimulate investment in local productions and market Taiwan’s TV content both domestically and overseas. Lung said the government should assess the limitation and relaxation of product placement policies so that local TV programs can improve their content.

As for local TV stations’ saturation coverage of I Am A Singer, Lung said the issue should be addressed by the commission, the authority responsible for managing television stations.

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