Wed, Jan 27, 2010 - Page 4 News List

PTS dispute triggers letters campaign

QUALIFICATIONS Key players in the battle for control of the TV station wrote letters to the ‘United Daily News’ to defend their positions and the decision to file rival lawsuits

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The power struggle over the chairmanship of Public Television Service (PTS) intensified yesterday as acting chairman Cheng Tung-liao (鄭同僚) and a member of the board of directors, Chen Shih-min (陳世敏), wrote letters to a newspaper defending their recent actions.

Both letters were published in yesterday’s Chinese-language United Daily News.

In his letter, Cheng highlighted what he said were problems with the qualifications of the eight new directors on the PTS board.

He said the Control Yuan censured the Government Information Office (GIO) last year over its proposed changes to the board because there was a major flaw in the procedure it used to appoint the directors.

He said that the PTS supervisory board then asked him to quickly convene a directors’ meeting to settle the dispute.

The board of directors, however, did not think there was any problem with their qualifications.

Caught in the middle, Cheng said he sought legal advice and decided to request a temporary injunction to stop the new directors from convening a meeting.

“As the chairman, I have to take actions that are necessary and cause minimal damage to PTS to ensure the stability and interests of the station,” Cheng said. “It is my duty.”

Responding to accusations that he used PTS funds to request the injunction, Cheng said the expenses should be paid for by the station since his action was aimed at protecting PTS.

The station’s supervisory board had approved the move, he said.

Chen, on the other hand, wrote that the dispute had become a farce, with Cheng and board directors filing lawsuits against one another.

He said the dispute had exposed structural problems facing the station.

The Public Television Act (公共電視法), passed more than a decade ago, restricted spending on public TV and also opened the door to political interference, Chen wrote.

“The PTS is often seen as state-run TV, so the budget was appropriated based on the standards used for state-run corporations,” Chen said.

“Under the act, the PTS chairman was chosen based on negotiations between two political parties and was required to report to the Legislative Yuan,” he wrote.

“Aside from banning political party members from becoming directors, the Act also bans those who have worked in the private media from serving on the board,” Chen wrote.

“Nearly all PTS management positions are held by people from academia who are not media professionals. Because of this, the appointment of supervisors and managers has often been seen as the products of politics,” he wrote.

Chen said a proposed amendment to the Act does not address these issues either.

“The cause of PTS’ problems is the lack of government policy and vision for the media industry, which also includes how to handle state-run media such as the Central News Agency and Radio Taiwan International,” Chen wrote.

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