Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Action wanted on WTO motion

CULTURE CLUB The Campaign for Media Reform believes that Taiwan's sponsorship of a possible WTO motion could be harmful to the nation's audiovisual industries

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cultural activists yesterday urged the government to drop out of a possible forthcoming WTO motion being advocated by the US which the activists said would prevent WTO members from protecting their audiovisual products.

"The motion was sponsored by an alliance of six nations, and Taiwan is one of them. We asked the government to withdraw from the alliance immediately," said Wei Ti (魏玓), convener of the Campaign for Media Reform (CMR).

Wei made the remarks at a press conference held by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) in the legislature yesterday.

According to the International Network for Cultural Diversity, a world-wide network of artists and cultural groups dedicated to countering the homogenizing effects of globalization on culture, the motion was initiated by the US and collectively sponsored by Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Mexico.

The motion is a wide-ranging request which covers motion picture production, distribution and screening; promotion and advertising; and sound recording services, and covers a number of specific sub-sectors in the audiovisual field.

Under the motion, government measures and programs that in any way limit or constrain the import or export of these audiovisual services, including films, television programs and sound recordings, would be frozen at their current level.

Furthermore, the measures and programs could not be changed in any way that would make them more favorable to local artists and cultural producers, according to the motion.

Wei said that the motion has been directed against 27 WTO member countries where the policy of so-called "cultural exception" is adopted so that audiovisual products from the US could possibly swamp their markets without opposition under the motion's protection.

"The government should publicly express its opposition to the motion. Instead, we suggest the government seek cooperation with countries adopting policies on protecting their own national cultures," Wei said.

The CMR also said the motion could damage the development of local cultural industries and added that it posed a threat to cultural diversity, the goal set by UNESCO.

In response, the Government Information Office issued a press release later yesterday dismissing the allegations and saying that the government hadn't made the kinds of requests claimed to be in the WTO motion.

"We did request that other WTO members open their markers for our audiovisual products and audiovisual service sectors, but we didn't ask them to freeze their current protection measures," the statement said.

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