Thu, Jan 13, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Aboriginal TV channel to help correct stereotypes

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The aboriginal television channel should serve as a means to revise stereotyped images of Aborigines often portrayed on Taiwan's mainstream televisions, aboriginal advocates said yesterday.

"The aboriginal television channel can be viewed as a train engine to advance the distinctive cultures, languages and customs of the 12 aboriginal peoples in Taiwan," said the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP's) Ethnic Affairs Department chief Yang Chang-cheng (楊長鎮).

Yang made the remarks at a forum organized by the DPP's Ethnic Affairs Department. The forum was held to discuss the representation of Aborigines after the nation's first aboriginal television channel began trial broadcasts on Jan. 1.

Yang said one issue is the challenge of moving from the third-person narrative to the first-person narrative. Long portrayed as "they" or "the others" by the mainstream media, Chang said it is crucial to start referring to aboriginal peoples as "we," a move toward full self-consciousness.

Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢), a senior producer at Public Television echoed the need for Aboriginies to run their own media outlets.

employment

Taking Canada's APTN station -- a public television channel dedicated to the country's native population -- ?as an example, Feng said Aborigines make up 75 percent of employees at the station. By recruiting Aborigines as its main employees, APTN can successfully represent the native population, Feng said, adding that the strategy also helped train new talent and further reduce the unemployment rate among the aboriginal population.

Compared to APTN's NT$600 million annual budget, the budget for the aboriginal television channel last year was NT$200 million, according to the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP).

If the Legislative Yuan clears the NT$300 million budget for this year proposed by the CIP, the channel will begin broadcasting on Taiwan Television (TTV) starting on July 1, CIP officials said.

Compared to the Hakka television channel, which has been in operation since July 2003, the aboriginal channel is behind schedule.

commercialization

Many aboriginal advocates have criticized TTV for commercializing programs on Hakka television channels.

They fear the aboriginal television channel will receive the same treatment.

Jim Lu (盧景海), special assistant to the CIP, indicated that in addition to the limited budget, the CIP also faces issues such as poor reception of the channel in mountainous areas. The CIP, however, will continue to push the channel to begin operations on time, he said.

Lu said the "CIP plans to establish an `Aboriginal Peoples Culture Foundation' and `Aboriginal Television Channel Decision Team' to start operating the aboriginal television channel on time."

In addition to changing mis-perceptions of Aborigines in the mainstream media, integrating new technology is another strategy, said Connie Lin Connie Lin (林育卉), CEO of the Broadcasting Development Fund.

She suggested that the aboriginal television channel should consider producing programs in various platforms, such as digital televisions or mobile phones.

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