Hundreds of people yesterday staged a “passerby” protest outside CtiTV’s (中天電視) headquarters in Taipei, accusing the television station of producing biased reports on the student-led occupation and siege of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei over the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement.
The protesters started to gather at about 2pm outside the CtiTV building, carrying placards and slogans charging the TV station with making biased reports about the Sunflower movement.
CtiTV was prepared for the demonstration, mobilizing about 100 of its employees in a counterprotest, as police officers and barricades protected the front of the building.
The CtiTV workers were holding placards defending their employer as “truthful, rational” and “truly loving Taiwan.”
On the building itself, the station hung large banners reading: “Defend freedom of the press” and “Reject the ‘black terror’” — a reference to the organizer of yesterday’s protest, student group Democracy Kuroshio.
Kuroshio is Japanese for “black tide” and pays homage to the 500,000 black-clad protesters who rallied against the pact on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office building on March 30.
“Each media outlet may have its own perspective on a news event, but the problem with CtiTV is that it doesn’t air reports on a protest itself, rather the station purposefully picks on individual protesters who may have done something questionable,” said Liu Ching-wen (劉敬文) — better known by his nickname, Yoshi (妖西). “Reports aired on CtiTV may seem balanced, but they are malintentioned.”
Liu said they were merely “passing by” the CtiTV headquarters and therefore should not be in violation of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法).
He was alluding to a statement made by the Taipei City Police Department last week about an unauthorized rally held by former gang leader Chang An-le (張安樂) — the “White Wolf” — in support of the cross-strait service trade agreement as legal because the demonstrators had been merely “passing by.”
As the crowd protested outside CtiTV headquarters, the station tried to interrupt them by airing the company’s anthem through loudspeakers, before its staff started yelling at the protesters.
“We are here to defend freedom of the press and our reporters’ right to work,” CtiTV manager Hsiung Yi-shan (熊移山) said to the protesters. “Aren’t you breaching freedom of the press now?”
His remarks triggered chants of “false news” from the crowd and the shouting continued for about 10 minutes, before the CtiTV employees took out small loudspeakers playing the company’s anthem and began singing loudly to mask the demonstrators’ cries.
After a standoff lasting about 30 minutes, the crowd marched on to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai’s (蔡正元) office to protest.
Along the way, they handed out flyers to residents and passersby, and were welcomed by many residents, who cheered them on and gave them drinks.
After the demonstrators heard that Tsai had mobilized a crowd of about 100 to 200 supporters outside his office, they said they elected not to go there so as to avoid any potential conflict, and diverted their rally to a nearby park, where they urged voters in the lawmaker’s constituency to withdraw their support for him.