Tue, Oct 14, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen ridicules Lien's media pledge

COMMUNICATIONS ERROR The president said someone wasn't keeping up with political developments, without naming the Chinese Nationalist Party chairman

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday mocked Chinese Nation-alist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) pledge to establish a national communications agency.

Chen's remarks came after Lien, who is visiting London, said on Sunday that if the KMT were reinstated as the ruling party, he would establish a national communications commission (NCC) consisting of experts to oversee the communications industry.

Chen said, "Someone visiting England commented that Taiwan should establish a national communications commission next year. This person is obviously behind in his understanding of Taiwan's democratic changes, for we have already established a preparatory office for a national communications commission."

Chen and Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday celebrated the opening of the NCC's preparatory office.

The commission will be established as an independent entity under the Executive Yuan, pending the legislature's passage of the draft framework act on communications and distribution (通訊傳播基本法) and the draft organic law of the NCC (通訊傳播委員會組織法).

The commission would essentially oversee and regulate the telecommunications, media, and information technology sector, taking over these responsibilities from the Ministry of Transportation and Communication's (MOTC) Directorate General of Telecommunications, and its Department of Posts and Telecommunications and the Government Information Office's (GIO) Department of Broadcasting Affairs.

"Given the convergence of different types of information technology, including cellular phones, television and the Internet, the lines that differentiate broadcasting and communications are quickly becoming blurred," Chen said.

He said a new government agency was necessary to keep up with these changes.

According to Tsai Ching-yen (蔡清彥), head of the preparatory office, the commission's tasks would include oversight of wireless network facilities and usage, allocation of frequency ranges, regulation of the private sector and protection of consumer needs.

He stressed that creating an agency with the authority to manage all areas of communications is needed given the convergence of information technology.

The commission would also be responsible for censoring the content of online data, television programs and other information trans-mitted through mass communications technology.

Tsai said, however, that censorship would be minimal, clamping down on violent and sexual content only when necessary.

Commission members would be nominated by the premier and appointed by the president for five-year terms. Funding for the commission would come in part from the government. The body would also collect fees for its services.

The media are currently regulated by the GIO, while the telecommunications industry falls under the jurisdiction of the MOTC and the Ministry of National Defense.

The Cabinet plans to abolish the 32-year-old GIO, which has been criticized for acting both as the Cabinet's mouthpiece and the regulatory body for the nation's media. Its four major tasks would be transferred to other government agencies and the commission.

additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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