Tue, Jun 29, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Interim licenses granted to three TV broadcasters

NO TO BBC After its second license renewal proposal was rejected, regulators said a hasty scheduling of a third hearing was impossible

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Government Information Office (GIO) announced yesterday that terrestrial television channels Taiwan Television (TTV), Chinese Television System (CTS) and China Television (CTV) will begin operating under a three-month interim license by the start of next month to facilitate the depoliticizing of media channels and to possibly prepare to transfer either or both of the former two channels to public ownership.

"We are doing this to make sure that there is equal treatment for all three stations, since they all had to renew their licenses before the end of June," said GIO Secretary General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍).

The decision was made during a terrestrial television channel committee hearing yesterday.

Lin said that the main reason for the decision was to assist the channels in their adjustments to changes in the Broadcasting and Television Law (廣電法). According to the changes, government shares in the largely party-controlled terrestrial media outlets must be sold and individuals with party affiliations must leave media management positions. The government is considering plans to privatize one station and nationalize the other or to combine the two stations into one public television channel.

Lin listed reform priorities for the three channels, emphasizing changes in the channels' amounts of outside programming and commercial advertisements, their reception in remote areas and plans for stock handovers and management changes.

"The interim licenses and changes to the channels will increase healthy competition and help develop Taiwan's media climate," Lin said.

The GIO also commented on the beleaguered Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC) network yesterday, saying that it was unlikely that there would be a third review of the station's request for a license renewal before the end of June.

Reacting to last Friday's second license renewal rejection by the GIO, Liu Kuang-sheng (劉廣生), BCC deputy general manager, yesterday asked the GIO to hold its third review before June 30, two months earlier than the GIO had proposed.

The network has been operating on an interim license since its failure to pass its second review. During past reviews, reasons for the GIO rejection have included the lack of clear plans for stock handovers, biased political advertisements and news broadcasts and the network's near-monopoly of radio frequencies.

Liu submitted supplemental information and plans for its case to the GIO yesterday, saying that the BCC is trying address the GIO's concerns and has already put in place procedures to comply with the legally mandated changes. For example, Liu said, the BBC has long planned to make board changes to satisfy the broadcasting law's requirements that individuals with party affiliations must step out of media management.

Regarding other requirements such as party ad and news ratios, Liu said the BCC had been unfairly characterized as being biased.

"If no one asked us to play their commercials, then we wouldn't be able to play them. As to the proportion, we played all that we should have. We at BBC have always used fair and objective methods to handle ruling-party news and ads," said Liu.

He said that the BCC's network had often broadcasted news and advertisements related to the Democratic Progressive Party and its affiliated groups and businesses. But the GIO reaction to Liu's presentation was less than encouraging.

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