Both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucuses yesterday said they plan to propose a binding legislative resolution to limit the government’s “product placements” in news reports.
DPP caucus whip Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said her caucus is mulling introducing a cap regulating the number of advertorials the government is allowed to place in the media to prevent it from compromising the independence of the media.
KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏), meanwhile, said his caucus will propose prohibiting the government from buying political advertorials when legislators proceed to the final review of the central government’s fiscal budget request for next year.
Lin said that reports promoting the government’s policies should all be marked as “advertisements,” while the government should be banned from featuring specific government officials in ads.
The controversy over the government’s practice of product placement in the media came under scrutiny after Dennis Huang (黃哲斌), senior reporter of the Chinese-language China Times, recently resigned in protest against what he called an “invasion of regular news pages by advertorials.”
Huang, who worked for the China Times for more than 16 years, launched a signature campaign afterwards, opposing the use of advertorials by politicians across party lines, saying that the practice had become rampant under both the KMT and the DPP governments.
On Sunday, more than 100 reporters and professors of communications at various universities signed a petition calling on the government to stop resorting to advertorials, a practice they claim has grown substantially under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.
The outcry prompted Ma later that day to promise that the government would not be engaged in any advertorials for political purposes while the government’s campaign to promote policies should all be marked as ads.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) on Tuesday conceded the government had failed to address the issue over the past two years as previously promised after Ma was elected president.
At a separate setting yesterday, KMT Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) acknowledged the difficulty of solving the problem in a short time.
King said the Ma administration and the KMT would work closely to stop all government agencies, especially local governments, from “purchasing news coverage” to promote government policies or events.
In an interview with UFO Radio yesterday, King added: “The issue of advertorials is an old and complicated problem that started under the former DPP government ... At least we are acknowledging the problem now and are willing to solve the problem.”
King also shrugged off an accusation by the DPP that he was presenting a class at National Chengchi University as a means to promote government propaganda.
King yesterday confirmed he will offer a course at the university next semester on political communication, but dismissed concerns that he will use the course to promote the KMT’s political ideologies.
As an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Journalism at the university, King said he is required to present courses and had already taught the same course in February.
Rather than challenging his teaching of a course at the university while serving as a top KMT official, he said, the DPP should check and see whether the content of his course was biased before making any criticisms.