Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 3 News List

GIO to curb illegal radio stations

BROADCASTERS The Government Information Office said that, despite efforts to allow underground radio stations to become licensed, a crackdown on the stations will go on

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pledging to continue the crackdown on underground radio stations before legalizing them, the Government Information Office (GIO) is expected to unveil a concrete measure next week regarding the legalization of underground radio stations and complete the process by the end of next year.

There are 93 underground radio stations. The GIO is accepting illegal radio stations' applications starting Oct. 1.

"In addition to helping underground radio stations become legal, we won't hesitate to continue the crackdown on illegal radio stations," GIO Director-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told reporters yesterday morning.

Likening underground broadcasters to "illegal street vendors," Lin said that the measure is aimed at restructuring the order of the radio industry and creating a win-win situation for both underground radio stations and legal ones.

"Instead of letting street vendors roam the streets and affect the business of regular stores, we thought it would be a better idea to assign a special zone for them, where they can play by the rules and be better regulated," Lin said.

"If successfully implemented, a similar measure will not only safeguard the interest of legal radio stations, but also help the formerly illegal ones upgrade their competitive edge," Lin said.

Under the GIO's plan, two hertzes of the radio frequencies between 88hz to 108hz would be set aside for underground radio stations.

To better manage radio stations, Lin said that the GIO plans to separate radio stations with high, medium and low transmit powers into three different frequency categories.

While the transmission radius of a high transmit power radio station covers the entire nation, that of a medium transmit power station is 20km and low transmit power 10km to 15km.

Currently, radio stations with a high-powered transmitter are state-owned such as Police Radio Station and Voice of Han Broadcasting Network.

Radio stations with medium transmission power are privately owned either for commercial purposes or public service. Those with low transmission power include school experiment radio stations or underground radio stations.

Responding to the criticism that it was inappropriate for GIO to make such a major policy decision before it is dissolved and transfers its responsibilities to the proposed national communication council (NCC), Lin said that the criticism sounded "short-sighted."

"So are they saying that we don't have to do anything before the government restructuring project is complete?" Lin asked. "As civil servants, it'd be dereliction of duty if we didn't do anything and continue to push for reforms."

The Cabinet approved two draft amendments in September last year aimed at abolishing the Government Information Office (GIO) and laying the foundation for its successor, the National Communications Commission (NCC).

If approved by the legislature, the commission would be an independent entity and the sole supervisory body of the telecommunications and media industries.

Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), who was once the president of an underground radio station in his hometown of Kaohsiung before he was elected as a lawmaker about 10 years ago, threw his backing behind the GIO's plan.

"My station was raided for three or four times and equipments confiscated during the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) era," he said. "Speaking from my personal experience, it's definitely the right way to go to liberate more radio frequencies."

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