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 (
"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 (
The NCC's demand, however, came under attack from both the government and opposition parties yesterday.
DPP Legislator Wang Shu-hui (
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 (
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 (
Su emphasized that how TVBS-N handled the gangster footage exposed problems with its operations.
This explained why the specific Article was invoked in the first place, he added.
Su said that while the commission had requested TVBS to strictly adhere to its news quality control procedures, it also believed that the station must replace certain supervisors, as they also serve as hosts and producers of TVBS programs.
The dual positions they hold -- as overseers and the overseen -- may result in conflicts of interest, he said.
"The commission has the right to order changes, because it is authorized by law to `take necessary measures,'" Su said.
The commission also had the right to approve changes of ownership in the broadcasting business, he said.
By law, however, the commission cannot suspend or close down TVBS, he added.
In a bid to display the caucus' dissatisfaction with the NCC's ruling, Wang yesterday said her caucus would take action to prevent the commission from exercising its authority tomorrow and on Tuesday, but she did not elaborate.
PFP Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) urged the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucuses not to launch protests against specific targets.
He said that if the parties were to lead 100,000 people on the streets next Saturday as they claimed they would, they should also protest in front of the Government Information Office (GIO) because Cabinet Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang's (鄭文燦) alleged intervention in the stock sale of government-owned Taiwan Television Enterprise (TTV) showed misconduct as serious as that of TVBS.
On Jan. 17, Cheng hosted a gathering for Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆), Japan's Fuji Television Network official Sumio Hasegawa and Liberty Times Group (the parent company of the Taipei Times) officials.
Hasegawa said last Sunday that Cheng and Chen had arranged the lunch to "suggest" that Fuji transfer its TTV shares to the Liberty Times Group because it was "trustworthy" and close to the government.
Cheng yesterday defended his actions, saying his attempts to "improve" the relationship between the Liberty Times Group and Japanese Fuji Television Network and TVBS' faking of its news stories were two entirely different issues.
"Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has launched an investigation into the [TTV] case," Cheng added. "I will help her and offer a detailed report."
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