Sat, Dec 25, 2010 - Page 3 News List

DPP legislators push NCC to retract ‘chilling’ decision

By Flora Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporters, with CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers vowed yesterday to introduce a resolution demanding that the National Communications Commission (NCC) retract its decision to revoke the license of ERA TV’s entertainment channel, a decision they said would have a chilling effect on other broadcasters.

DPP caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said the commission’s decision could be unlawful and may have violated the constitutionally protected freedom of communication.

The caucus would also seek the support of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators for its action, Pan said.

“The Legislative Yuan, which enacted the commission’s organic law, does not want to become an accomplice in the suppression of the media,” he said.

The commission decided on Wednesday to revoke the channel’s license for repeated violations of the ban on embedded advertising. The decision has drawn heavy criticism from media freedom advocates.

Commission spokesman Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) defended the decision, saying the NCC had given the station a one-year buffer period to improve, but the station had failed to do so.

With the channel guilty of several similar violations over the past year, the decision to revoke its license was completely lawful, he insisted.

The channel will have to stop broadcasting either on Dec. 30 or Jan. 1, he said.

Although the KMT caucus has also been critical of the decision, it has reservations about supporting the DPP caucus’ proposal to pass a legislative resolution to pressure the Executive Yuan to get the commission to withdraw its decision.

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) called the DPP proposal “[an act of] populism,” saying that the legislature should instead invite the commission to brief lawmakers on the rationale for its decision.

“I believe it is inappropriate to appeal to the chilling effect and accuse the ruling party of suppressing the media,” Lin said.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) criticized the DPP as “too naive,” saying that the legislature cannot infringe upon the commission’s executive authority.

However, KMT legislators Chao Lin-yun (趙麗雲) and Tsao Erh-chung (曹爾忠) said they would support the DPP proposal.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) respected the commission’s independence and would not intervene with any individual cases.

“The National Communications Commission is an independent body that set up clear guidelines. Any individuals who are unwilling to accept the result should appeal the case via judicial procedures,” Presidential Office spokesman Luo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said.

In an interview with the Chinese-language United Daily News on Thursday, Ma declined to comment on the decision, and said the NCC, as an independent body, must make decision based on the guidelines.

“I’ve never regulated the media outlets or tried to meddle with the issues. The National Communications Commission has the authority [to revoke the license]. The decision may not meet public expectations, but any adjustments should be made via legal procedures,” Ma said.

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