The National Communications Commission (NCC) plans to formulate a code of conduct to prevent television stations from "inflating ballots" while reporting vote counts in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections.
NCC Vice Chairman Howard Shyr (
"We hope to flesh out a raft of guidelines and operational rules to prevent similar disputes in the two critical elections set for early next year," Shyr said.
The NCC will invite academics and executives from civic groups in the coming days to exchange views on the formulation of operational rules TV stations will have to follow when reporting vote counts in the Jan. 12 legislative elections and the March 22 presidential election, Shyr said.
In principle, Shyr said, the NCC looks forward to seeing TV stations exercising self-restraint in reporting vote counts and refraining from "inflating the number of ballots" cast for any individual candidate or political party.
For offenders, Shyr said he hopes TV station owners and operators can work out mutually acceptable disciplinary measures within existing legal provisions.
The NCC was created last year, with commissioners nominated by major political parties in proportion to the number of seats the parties held in the Legislative Yuan.
Such a partisan-based formation was declared unconstitutional by the Council of Grand Justices, which has set Dec. 31 next year as a deadline for disbanding the body. NCC commissioners have decided to step down when the tenure of the legislature expires on Jan. 31.
Meanwhile, in related news, Minister of Justice Morley Shih (
Shih said that accepting bribes from election hopefuls would not only compromise one's dignity, but could also lead to prosecution.
He said that since regulations on punishment for vote-buying offenses were amended, penalties have been raised dramatically to include prison terms of between three years and 10 years.
He cited as an example that those giving away tea worth NT$500 could be sentenced to three years and two months, while giving away cash amounts of between NT$200 and NT$500 to residents of a building complex through vote brokers is punishable by prison terms of three years and six months.
Giving away cash, hosting dinners and tours or buying and selling votes will all be punishable, he said.
He said the ministry had given NT$413 million (US$12.7 million) in rewards to informants for information leading to vote-buying convictions over the years.
The ministry has also deployed more than 5,000 informants around the country in its bid to crack down on vote-buying, which has borne fruit in Taoyuan, Miaoli, Changhua, Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties recently, Shih said.
One-hundred-and-ten cases of vote-buying have been prosecuted, with 30 cases leading to the annulment of election victories, he said.
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