Sun, Apr 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

NCC fine for TVBS comes under fire

POLITICAL FOOTBALL The order to replace staff at the broadcaster was criticized by the pan-blue camp, who accused the NCC of bowing to pan-green camp pressure

By Flora Wang, Jimmy Chuang and Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The decision of the National Communications Commission (NCC) on Friday to fine TVBS and TVBS-N television stations and demand the resignation of TVBS general manager Lee Tao (李濤) over the mishandling and broadcasting of a gangster's video was slammed from all sides yesterday, with some arguing the punishment was not harsh enough while others panned the commission for "crossing the line."

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said the NCC should not show any mercy to TVBS regarding its punishment.

"This is not the first time TVBS has created such chaos and caused trouble," Su said. "The NCC's punishment should satisfy the public in terms of social justice."

"What they did seriously jeopardized public order, created chaos and made many people fear for their personal safety," he added."It should not be tolerated."

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) said the punishments were not severe enough to prevent other TV stations from copying TVBS in the future.

"It's like ... the NCC is trying to encourage other TV stations to repeat unethical behavior as a means of gaining better viewing figures," he said.

TVBS and TVBS-N were fined NT$1 million (US$30,200) each for airing footage during which a gangster threatened to kill his gang boss.

At the time the station said the video had been received from the gangster.

The station said on Wednesday night that the video had been shot by one of its own reporters.

While supervisors at the station's Taipei headquarters claimed they were unaware of the fact, police are now investigating if the threat message was the gangster's own idea or whether it was instigated by the reporter.

The NCC's resolution on Friday ordered Lee and TVBS' deputy news department general manager Li Siduan (李四端) to step down within a week of receiving the official order from the NCC.

The NCC's demand, however, came under attack from both the government and opposition parties yesterday.

DPP Legislator Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) told reporters that the NCC had made a "strange" resolution, because forcing the stations to replace personnel was never a punishment favored by the DPP.

She said the caucus suspected that the NCC was trying to give the impression that Lee was suffering from political persecution.

The People First Party (PFP) caucus, on the other hand, alleged that the NCC reached its resolution under pressure from the pan-green camp.

PFP Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) told a separate press conference that "[The NCC] can ask the media to improve its administration or news processing but it cannot take charge of a company's personnel affairs."

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus said the NCC is an independent administrative organization that is empowered with the right to exercise its own authority and therefore the caucus could not demand that the NCC do anything.

KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) urged the NCC not to "dance to the tune of the ruling party or other media outlets" because forcing Lee to resign was what the DPP wanted.

In its defense, NCC chairman Su Yeong-chin (蘇永欽) said yesterday that its ruling on Friday was issued according to Article 29 of the Satellite and Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法), which clearly states that if a satellite broadcasting business is inappropriately operated so as to impair the rights and interests of subscribers, the regulatory agency is legally authorized to notify the business to rectify the situation or take other necessary measures.

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