Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Consumer Foundation says the public must stand on its rights, demand refund

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The non-profit Consumers' Foundation (消基會) urged the public to ask for compensation now that a total of 21 channels have disappeared after the Government Information Office (GIO) reviewed broadcasting-license-renewal requests and new-license applications.

"Since many channels have disappeared, cable users are definitely authorized to insist on their legal rights and ask that cable operators deduct an amount from their monthly cable-services account," said Terry Huang (黃怡騰), the foundation's secretary-general.

According to Huang, in addition to the seven TV channels whose license-renewal requests were declined, another channel's new-license application was rejected and another 13 TV channels did not submit their license applications at all. As a result, these 21 channels stopped broadcasting at midnight last Wednesday.

According to the foundation's statistics, about 4.3 million households nationwide are registered cable users. Huang said that the foundation has received several complaints from consumers who said that their cable operators would not refund them for the 21 channels they had paid for but that no longer exist. He said that these cable operators are violating the law and consumers shouldn't abandon their legal rights so easily.

"Even if they do not give a refund, they should at least temporarily broadcast good-quality programs on the channels formerly occupied by the 21 channels that disappeared," Huang said.

Regarding the GIO's dealing with TV stations' renewal requests or new license applications, TV viewers had different opinions.

Freelance TV reporter Roger Cheng (鄭凱駿) said that he supports the GIO's decision to cancel 21 channels, especially news channels, because he does not feel that local TV channels are producing worthwhile news programs.

"Many people will differ from me and say that this is definitely against the freedom of journalism," Cheng said.

"I totally agree with that. But, let us go through this issue carefully -- do you call those programs they produce `journalism?'" he asked.

Cheng said that he often has contact with local TV stations to "borrow" or "buy" news footage for work purposes. However, he has often had a hard time because he could not find the applicable and professional footage that he needs.

"It is the `news logic' that I am talking about here," he said. "If there is no `news logic,' there will not be good news footage."

In addition to supporting the GIO's decision, Cheng also suggested that the government pay more attention to educating the next generation of journalists.

"It is the ethics and attitude that count," he said.

"We do not have enough quality journalism professors. Also, we do not have enough reporters with the correct attitude and ethics. That is our biggest problem," Cheng said.

"The entire thing is illogical and difficult to understand but it happened," said Good TV Executive Producer Liu Dai-di (劉黛蒂).

"It is a weird thing in a weird world. You can't judge whether it is fair or reasonable," she said.

Wang Lan (王嵐), an occupational therapist, supported the GIO's decision to decrease the number of TV channels but she also complained about the GIO's handling of the matter.

"So many things are happening in the world every day. I really do not understand why our local TV news channels only care about what happens in Taiwan," she said. "Our TV news is way too conservative."

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