Lawmakers on the Transportation Committee yesterday criticized the National Communications Commission (NCC) for using “double standards” when handling product placement in TV programs.
The committee was scheduled to review the NCC’s budget for the next fiscal year yesterday but its chairwoman came in for a grilling on several issues.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) asked why the commission did not take immediate action against channels that allow politicians to appear as guests in prime time TV series or air illegal skin-care product commercials, while fining Sisy Chen (陳文茜) NT$600,000 for introducing a special feast at a Taichung hotel in one of her programs.
Commission Chairwoman Bonnie Peng (彭芸) said that the decision to fine Chen was made by an independent content review committee. Fifteen members attended the meeting that delivered the ruling, and 14 of them voted for the penalty, Peng said, adding that she could not issue a ruling single-handedly.
“I think these committee members have no clue on what is going on in the world nowadays,” Chu said. “They think they know better than we do.”
Chu highlighted a recent episode of Formosa TV’s (民視) prime- time series Mom’s House (娘家), which had former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) as a guest.
Kao said in her online journal that she is planning to run for a seat on the Taipei City Council.
Chu said Kao was supposed to portray a nameless volunteer working in a temple on the show, but she repeatedly introduced herself by saying “I am Kao Chia-yu.”
Peng said the commission received many complaints about the episode and was reviewing the case.
She reiterated that the commission would ask TV channels to stop broadcasting commercials featuring skin care products introduced by singer Pai Ping-ping (白冰冰) within a week.
The commission had fined the commercial producer 19 times for exceeding the ad time stated in its application. This time, however, the commission has received an official response from the Department of Health, which said that the products did not have an approval number issued by the department.
Lawmakers were also dissatisfied with the way the commission set mobile phone rates and an asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service charge.
A report from the legislature’s budget center last week showed that although the NCC had asked telecom operators to reduce the monthly charges for mobile phones and ADSL service, rates in Taiwan are still higher than those in neighboring countries.
Peng told lawmakers that the commission has been reducing the monthly charges for both services each year since 2007. The commission will announce a new rate schedule by April, she said.