Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 2 News List

GIO announces TVBS' punishment

STAFF WRITER

The Government Information Office (GIO) held a press conference last night to announce the disciplinary measures it would take against the cable station TVBS over the company's shareholder structure.

The TV station has been found to be 100 percent funded by foreign capital, and thus is in violation of Article 10 of the Satellite Broadcasting Law (衛星廣播電視法) which stipulates that direct foreign investment in a TV station should not exceed 50 percent, GIO Minister Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said.

Therefore, the GIO has decided to fine the station NT$1 million (US$29,686).

The cable station was also given the deadline of Dec. 20 to improve its condition, or else will face more severe disciplinary measures, to include being stripped of its operating license, Yao said.

Saying that the disciplinary measure was decided on after a meeting held with various government agencies, he added that a copy of the disciplinary action had been sent to the cable station last night as well.

The GIO launched a probe into TVBS' ownership structure on Oct. 29, and said that the station's foreign stake appeared to exceed the legal 50 percent limit.

The timing of the investigation coincided with the publicization of a photo of former deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) at a casino in South Korea in 2002 by the TVBS' talk show 2100 Quan Min Kai Jiang [Speaking Your Mind at 2100].

The photo subsequently fed the fire of a mounting scandal relating to the Democratic Progressive Party's alleged corruption, and the government's action against TVBS led to criticism that it was an attempt to silence the press.

According to the GIO's investigation, Bermuda Production Co, a British company, owns 47 percent of TVBS, while Oriental Production Co, a Taiwanese company, owns 53 percent.

However, Oriental Production Co's entire budget comes from Hong Kong, as does the funding of Bermuda Production Co.

As a result, the GIO asserts that TVBS is actually owned and operated 100 percent by Chinese interests.

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