Tue, Apr 01, 2003 - Page 2 News List

GIO stands firm on decision to cut CCTV broadcasts

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

Following Beijing's moves to tone down its opposition to Taiwanese TV channels airing in China, the Government Information Office (GIO) said yesterday that China's state-run CCTV would only be shown in Taiwan when Taiwanese networks broadcast across the Strait.

China's Taiwan affairs spokesman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清) said in a press conference last week that China had been "actively pushing" the broadcast of Taiwanese TV channels in China while claiming that the Taiwanese government has used CCTV for political gain. The government took CCTV off the air on March 6.

In response, GIO Director-General Arthur Iap (葉國興) yesterday blasted Zhang's remark as "ridiculous."

"CCTV will only be put back on the air when China issues permission to Taiwanese TV channels to broadcast in China," Iap said. "We have allowed CCTV to broadcast in Taiwan for 10 years. If CCTV's Taiwan broadcast is really a concern, China should have allowed Taiwanese TV channels to broadcast in China a long time ago."

CCTV has been airing in Taiwan via satellite on local stations eight hours a day since 1993. Its programs range from talk shows to news programs, including news conferences of Beijing's leaders and other political programs.

With Chinese audiences interested in Taiwan's culture, Taiwanese media groups have long had their eye on China's communications market.

TV channels including TVBS, ETTV, SET, Power TV and Taiwan News Network were all rejected by China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television for broadcast rights last year.

China has reiterated that only one Taiwanese TV channel would be approved for broadcast in China, a move that has created fierce competition among TV channels.

Of the five looking to push into China, ETTV has been the most aggressive over the past two years, signing cooperation contracts with about 10 TV stations in China. It has also produced a number of China-related programs in the past year.

However, deputy general manager of ETTV's oversea business department Ma Yung-jen (馬詠仁) said, "I don't think anybody will receive permission in the shortterm."

ERA general manager Kei Fu-hung (葛福鴻) established a TV network, Asia Plus, in Shanghai and started to broadcast by satellite there in October 2000. Since the Chinese government strictly controls news broadcasting, the channel offers entertainment programming, but not news.

Power TV, which has been fighting since last year to enter the Chinese market, is widely believed to be leading the race for the China slot after one of its correspondents was allowed to ask a question following the Chinese People's Congress two weeks ago.

An official from the TV station, who is familiar with the situation, however, said, "There is no sign that any of Taiwan's TV channels will receive approval in the next couple of years."

Beijing approved the broadcasting in China of Hong Kong's Phoenix TV channel in January. To please China, Phoenix has avoided covering controversial Chinese issues, such as the banning of Falun Gong.

"Gun and pen [as military power and media influence] are the last two things the Communist party would give up," said Wu Jiaxiang (吳稼祥), a Beijing based political analyst.

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