Thu, Mar 17, 2011 - Page 3 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: NCC calls on TV news to restrain disaster coverage

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday called on TV stations to exercise restraint on the coverage of the disasters in Japan after it received dozens of complaints from audience members.

NCC Spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said news stations should not inflate the volume of disaster coverage by repeatedly airing news that had already been reported in the past few days.

“It could marginalize the coverage of other equally important issues,” Chen said. “Audiences may also be emotionally overwhelmed by the disaster information they see on TV.”

Chen said the commission had laid out guidelines governing the TV broadcasts of disaster news after the nation was hit by Typhoon Morakot in 2009. He asked TV stations to exercise self-discipline when reporting disasters.

“We hope that the news stations can provide information in ways that help the public understand the truth based on professional and ethical judgments,” he added.

May Chen (陳依玫), chairwoman of the self-disciplinary committee at the Satellite Television Broadcasting Association (STBA), said the association had reminded its members to heed the -wording used to describe developments at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear Power plant. They should not describe hydrogen explosions or fires as nuclear explosions, she said.

Meanwhile, the NCC said it was scheduled to meet with the nation’s telecoms operators today to discuss the possibility of transmitting disaster warnings via text-messages.

Chen Jeng-chang said that many were impressed by how the Japanese government was able to warn its people through text messages 15 seconds before the big seismic wave struck, but doing that requires the cooperation of telecoms operators.

“The nation has 28 million registered phone numbers,” he said. “We will talk about how to transmit the message within a short period of time.”

However, Chen Jeng-chang said radio and TV remain the fastest way to send out information when a natural disaster or an emergency situation occurs. He said the NCC had amended the relevant information to authorize the government to draft channels on terrestrial and cable TV to air disaster-prevention information.

The commission had also allocated six sets of frequencies so that residents in remote areas could transmit disaster information through radio communications, he added.

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