Sat, Feb 22, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Anti-nuclear group accuses MRT firm of censoring advert

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A screengrab from the Facebook page of Mom Loves Taiwan shows on the left the “edited” version of the group’s anti-nuclear public service advertisement that was taken inside one of Taipei’s MRT stations, while the original design that was rejected is shown on the right.

Photo: Taipei Times

The Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) came under fire yesterday after an association of mothers against nuclear power on Wednesday evening launched an appeal calling on the public to “find five key words” that had been deleted from a free public service advertisement placed at Taipei MRT stations.

The words “Abort [the] Fourth Nuclear Power Plant” (廢除核四吧) were left out of the ad, the Mom Loves Taiwan group said on Facebook.

The group said the advertisement was intended “to support the public’s desire for a nuclear-free homeland,” but because of heavy pressure from the TRTC, the words were removed from the ad and replaced with five blanks.

The advertisement now shows an incomplete message that reads: “Save 6 percent of” followed by a lightning symbol and five blanks.

“The TRTC didn’t even allow the public service ad to include the association’s name, its Web site, or key phrases such as ‘terminate four,’ ‘nuclear power,’ ‘Fourth Nuclear Power Plant,’ or just the words ‘nuclear’ or ‘four,’” the group said.

The pro-nuclear government has been using various measures to promote nuclear power, including pushing a birdcage referendum and producing and paying for advertisements using taxpayers’ money to brainwash the public, the group said, adding that the government’s efforts to stop the group’s anti-nuclear message are an insult to the public’s desire for a nuclear-free nation.

“It is a serious invasion and violation of the basic human right to publicly express one’s opinion in a free democratic society,” the association said.

In response, the TRTC said: “The content of the advertisement was considered politically controversial by the advertisement contractor and was thus rejected by the advertisement assessment committee.”

The company added that it did not interfere with the decision.

The committee consists of 10 lawyers, academics, specialists and representatives of the Consumers’ Foundation, along with three TRTC officials, it said, adding that the review process was fair and objective.

“Why is nuclear power considered a political issue? It should be a livelihood issue,” Mom Loves Taiwan secretary-general Yang Shun-mei (楊順美) said.

Cheng Tzu-leong (鄭自隆), a professor at National Chengchi University’s department of advertising and convener of the committee, denied that the committee had reviewed the group’s ad.

Feng Chien-san (馮建三), a journalism professor at the university, said if the TRTC deletes words or phrases related to nuclear power, then it would have to reject any advertisement from Taiwan Power Co (台電) or the Ministry of Economic Affairs that directly or indirectly conveys a pro-nuclear message.

A ministry-sponsored commercial on “reducing carbon emissions” is currently being played at movie theaters. The message it conveys is that with coal-fired power plants beginning to close down this year, and the nation’s first and third nuclear power plants retiring in 2018 and 2024 respectively, the operation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is an important key to gradually achieve a nuclear-free homeland.

The commercial is to be shown at theaters across the nation throughout this month, including during the recent Lunar New Year holiday, when more people watched movies.

Film director and anti-nuclear activist Ko I-chen (柯一正) said it is an unfair competition because the government can play pro-nuclear commercials in movie theaters, but civic groups are not allowed to put up anti-nuclear advertisement in MRT stations.

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