Tue, Aug 30, 2005 - Page 2 News List

A new look at the GIO and its task

Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Pasuya Yao (姚文智) has been on the job for five months. After working as a print journalist and then Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) spokesman and deputy secretary-general during Hsieh's term as Kaohsiung mayor, Yao is full of fresh ideas, and wants to restructure the GIO while also hoping that he will be its last minister. Regarding the recent debate on renewing the operation licenses of local TV stations, he told `Taipei Times' staff reporter Jimmy Chuang that many people do not understand the story behind the scenes

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Government Information Office Minister Pasuya Yao.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-TEH, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: There were so many arguments in favor and against the GIO's decision to renew the operating licenses of certain television stations. Will the GIO do something differently or carry out new policies when these licenses are due again in six years?

Pasuya Yao: The GIO will not be the government office in charge of renewing the licenses in six years, I hope. We are looking forward to the establishment of the National Communications Committee (NCC), and are hoping that lawmakers will help draft the laws to establish the organization as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we are also hoping that the NCC will win the public's trust and support. Only the public's trust and support will neutralize the organization and help NCC officials avoid potential criticism or complaints when they are carrying out their responsibilities in the future. I strongly doubt whether future NCC members could do a better job than what the GIO is doing right now, if the NCC does not win the public's trust and support.

To win that trust and support, politics must be withdrawn from the organization. Some have suggested that NCC membership must be distributed to different parties according to an appropriate ratio. I think these kinds of suggestions will not be used. Just simply leave a free and independent space for real professionals to be able to do their work. That is what I am hoping.

Speaking of which, the GIO actually renewed TV channels by following the current laws. The regulations on license renewal are merely a constant reminder to local media workers that we shall maintain a moral attitude toward this business. This does not have to do with freedom of speech or politics.

TT: Some TV owners whose renewal applications were rejected have been complaining. How do you cope with that?

Yao: These people do not understand. In addition to their constant violations of the law, they were rejected because the content of their programs described on their applications do not match what was really broadcast on the air over the past six years. That was why we decided not to continue their licenses.

TT: You've said that you're hoping to be the last GIO minister. Can you explain?

Yao: Yes. My biggest frustration is that even when I work hard, it is still easy for me to be the target of condemnation, because in the past the GIO used to be a government office that brainwashed the public. Such an office should now just be a part of history. The GIO's job shall be carried out by a neutral organization such as the NCC.

TT: Are the minister's duties similar to what you expected before you took the oath? Have you experienced more frustration or encouragement?

Yao: Promoting the local film industry has always been my priority as a minister. I have been working on it and my hard work has been recognized, too.

I love challenges. Challenges have inspired passion and courage in me. It is okay with me if there are complaints, because I will still carry out my promises, no matter what. It has been only five months since I've taken the oath. I still have time to prove that I am a man of my word.

TT: The Public Television Service is planning to apply for another four new channels, including foreign language channels. Is this really necessary?

Yao: I tell you, maybe this is not enough. We have more and more foreign spouses, foreign workers and foreign visitors. We have been receiving complaints from them that there aren't enough TV programs in their own language. If this problem is not solved, it will create more social problems because these foreigners also have their needs for daily entertainment. In addition, we also need more channels to promote our own cultural stuff. We need our voice to be heard.

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