President Chen Shui-bian (
Chen said he was in favor of either establishing such a channel or making foreign-language programs promoting Taiwan to broadcast on various channels.
"It will not only help our foreign friends and spouses better understand Taiwan, but also create an English-learning environment for the public," he said. "It will help the Taiwanese develop a global view, raise the country's international profile and upgrade its international image."
Chen made the remarks in the latest issue of his e-newsletter made public yesterday.
The Executive Yuan announced on Wednesday that the Government Information Office would launch an English-language TV channel next year.
Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said the office expected to spend between eight and 12 months setting up the channel, adding that a budget of NT$2 billion (US$61 million) would be needed.
Although the channel will be state-funded, Shieh said the government would not get involved in its management and the channel would eventually be independent of government funds.
Chen yesterday said the government had produced English-language documentaries introducing Taiwanese culture and had distributed them or authorized foreign TV stations to broadcast them.
The government has also cooperated with the National Geographic and Discovery channels in the production of a series of documentaries on the nation's movers and shakers. A promotional film produced by the National Geographic Channel, Inspiring Taiwan, will be broadcast in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Africa and in the Asia-Pacific region this month.
Several local cable and terrestrial TV channels have capitalized on their satellite equipment to broadcast their programs across Asia and the Americas, Chen said, adding that some TV stations were looking into the possibility of establishing English-language channels to broadcast locally produced English programs.
With concrete planning and effective implementation, Chen said he believed "there will be zero distance between Taiwan and the world" in the foreseeable future.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus however yesterday criticized the planned English-speaking channel as a waste of money.
KMT legislative caucus whip Justin Chou (
"We need more fuel, we need more electrical power, we need more clean government officials but we do not need more TV channels," he said.
Chou said if the government really needs to promote itself on TV, it should focus on managing the Public Television Service rather than wasting money on establishing a new TV channel.
Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang