Self-regulation rather than legislation is the best way to control the media, according to Huang Hwei-chen (黃輝珍), who took over as director-general of the Government Information Office (GIO) yesterday.
"The way to best improve the performance of the media is through the industry's self-discipline not through the supervision of media watchdog groups nor legislative restrictions," Huang told reporters at a handover ceremony at the Executive Yuan yesterday afternoon.
Huang succeeded Arthur Iap (葉國興), who replaced Huang as a minister without portfolio in charge of reviewing bills and projects related to the media and minority groups.
Iap cited health as the reason for his resignation, although he had caused a good deal of controversy while head of the GIO.
The office attracted criticism from newspapers for its plan to contract a private media watchdog group to survey the media based on various criteria. The pan-blue camp was also annoyed that Iap organized the government to buy bulk air time and advertisement space from allegedly DPP-friendly media to promote government initiatives.
In April, Iap got in more hot water for pretending to shoot at newspaper photographers while answering questions in the legislature.
In an apparent attempt to distance himself from his predecessor, Huang said that his first priority after taking office would be to strengthen communication with the media and provide them with more services.
"The relationship between the government and the media should be cooperative and like that of partners instead of hostile and like that of enemies," he said. "The government and media should work together to fortify what we have in common and iron out what is different."
Huang also pledged to follow the four guidelines he set up to continue the unfinished business left behind by his predecessor.
"I'll be loyal to the country and serve the people. I'll carry out my duties in accordance with the law. I'll strive for betterment of my duty, I'll respect diversity and honestly communicate with my colleagues and the media," he said.
A KMT spokesman between 1999 and 2000, Huang said that he will not serve any particular political party in the future because a party spokesman is different from a government official.
"A government official serves the country and the people, while a party spokesman defends the interests of the party," he said.