Fri, Jan 08, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Civic groups brave rain to protest GIO intervention at PTS

By Loa Iok-sin and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Despite the pouring rain, dozens of people from several civic groups yesterday staged a protest outside the Government Information Office (GIO), accusing GIO Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) of illegally meddling in the election of the board of directors of Taiwan Public Television Service (PTS).

“It should be the GIO’s responsibility to defend the values that TBS [Taiwan Broadcasting System, 公共廣電集團] represents, as well as its independence. We hence cannot agree with the GIO’s intervention in elections of PTS’ board of directors and its chairman,” Citizen’s Congress Watch (CCW) executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) told reporters in front of the GIO.

TBS consists of PTS, together with the Chinese Television System, Indigenous Television Service and Hakka Television Service.

Dozens of people affiliated with civic groups, including the CCW, the Taiwan Labor Front, the Humanistic Education Foundation and the Earth Charter Taiwan, took part in the demonstration, held placards accusing Su of being “lawless” and in violation of the Public Television Act (公共電視法) and shouted slogans.

Ever since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) assumed power in May 2008, the government has come under criticism over its alleged interference in the management of PTS.

After the KMT-controlled legislature amended the Public Television Act in June to increase the number of seats on the PTS board of directors, the GIO dominated the nomination of members of a commission charged with reviewing board nominees. Civic groups said the GIO’s nomination of eight new directors to the PTS board paved the way for the ouster of Cheng Tung-liao (鄭同僚) as PTS chairman.

Last week, the PTS board of directors voted to terminate Cheng’s chairmanship during a meeting attended by a GIO representative, sparking fresh criticism from civic groups, as Cheng’s three-year term as PTS chairman, which began in December 2007, had not expired.

According to the Public Television Act, the PTS chairman’s term can only be interrupted if the chairman fails to fulfill his or her duty for up to three months.

The groups also questioned the validity of the appointment of eight new members to the board of directors last year. The government unilaterally reappointed PTS board members representing the government, saying that the move was justified since the members were on the board to represent the government, not as individuals. However, civic groups said the law stipulates that the decision to change board members could only be made by the board itself.

At a separate setting, when asked for comment, Su rejected the accusations, saying that the decision to change PTS’ chairmanship had been independently made by the board of directors.

The criticism against him was “neither fair nor true,” Su added.

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