Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers clash over media funding

PROPAGANDA A DPP legislator said he has a contract that proves Lien Chan knew about the secret funding of a talk show, while the KMT said he had obtained it illegally

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP Legislator Lo Wen-chia shows a copy of a KMT document bearing party chairman Lien Chan's signature yesterday. The document refers to putting up money for a TV talk show in order to attract votes.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUI, TAIPEI TIMES

Ruling and opposition lawmakers yesterday exchanged fire over the funding of TV programs by the government and political parties.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) provided further evidence on the connection between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the TV call-in program The Hope of Taiwanese Hearts (台灣心希望).

He said he had discovered that the funding had been approved by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰).

Lo said he has a copy of a KMT document bearing Lien's signature which refers to putting up money for a TV talk show targeted at winning extensive support from the electorate in central and southern Taiwan.

"Lien specified in the document that the program's host must be appointed by the KMT, and that it could only be broadcast if the KMT approved its content," Lo said.

The contract signed between the KMT and the program's producer states that the KMT would disburse NT$17.64 million to produce the show, and that the producer would face a fine of NT$500,000 if he breaks the agreement, Lo said.

"The document, signed by Lien on Aug. 23, proves the chairman's statement that he had not been informed about the funding had been a lie to the public," Lo said.

Lien, who is a candidate in the presidential election, "must not cheat his voters in this way," the DPP legislator said.

Lo said that the KMT also owns the copyright for The Hope of Taiwanese Hearts.

The KMT's claims that it was only a sponsor and that it had not interfered in the programming were also lies, Lo said.

KMT spokesman Alex Tsai (蔡正元) condemned Lo's accusations and said that Lien could not remember every paper he had ever signed, since he needs to handle "so many papers in one day."

Tsai accused Lo of having obtained the KMT document illegally.

"The program's producer stole the paper from the KMT, and Lo was an accomplice to this low-class theft," Tsai said.

Lo on Wednesday acknowledged that the KMT had given money to help produce the call-in show, but denied that this violated its vow to not interfere in the local media.

The KMT's admission sparked a wave of criticism by opposition parties against the Government Information Office's (GIO) policy of placement marketing (置入性行銷), in which the government buys advertisements on specific programs.

People First Party (PFP) lawmakers disputed the policy, saying the DPP government was influencing the media because TV producers would cooperate with the administration to earn adver-tising revenue.

The PFP on Thursday demanded that the GIO stop the practice, or else it would cut the proposed NT$1.1 billion information budget next year.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun objected to the opposition lawmakers' criticism.

"Propagating government policy is normal in democratic countries. Deleting the proposed expenditure would infringe on citizens' right to know," Yu said.

"The government carried out the placement marketing program with political neutrality, since its goal was to promote public welfare," he said.

Publicizing government policy is also not the same as a political party promoting it views, Yu said.

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