Seeing a movie, traveling on public transportation or taking the train may have more in common than people think. That’s because all of these activities now involve infomercials on the government’s proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
Government authorities have asked that electronic information displays in Taipei Main Station and trains operated by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) run ECFA infomercials. Messages scrolling on the information displays include: “ECFA is to protect Taiwan and is a road to the rest of the world,” and “ECFA is to help people do business and increase Taiwan’s economic competitiveness.”
Moviegoers heading to a theater to catch the latest movie will now also be treated to a minute-long commercial touting the benefits of the ECFA in between movie previews.
Speaking in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times yesterday, an official in charge of movie content at the Government Information Office said the Council of Labor Affairs had asked to insert a commercial called “Guarding the nation’s sovereignty” before all movies broadcast in theaters nationwide.
“The commercial is broadcast as part of a three-minute time span allocated for public messages,” said the official, who did not wish to be named. “Its purpose is to market the ECFA and it will be played until the end of April.”
A quick survey of commuters at Taipei Main Station found that many members of the public are strongly against the ads, with some saying that they see it as government intrusion in their everyday affairs.
“I have no problem with the ads appearing in banks, government offices and other places that are actually related to the ECFA. But in movie theaters, trains and even some hospitals? I think enough is enough,” said a middle-aged commuter surnamed Chen.
“During our train ride, we kept seeing the [ECFA ads] scroll in front of our faces … and it took away from actually useful information, like what the next stop was,” said an elderly woman surnamed Tsai, who had just alighted from a train from Yilan County.