The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it would send an official letter to SET-TV asking the station to explain its coverage of a job fair in New Taipei City (新北市) on Labor Day.
In the coverage, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was seen visiting the job fair hosted by the Council of Labor Affairs on Sunday and stopping at a booth for restaurant Din Tai Fung. Ma then pleads for a job at the restaurant on behalf of a “job applicant” visiting the booth.
However, the SET-TV reporter later discovered that the “applicant” was already an employee at Din Tai Fung.
This was an “embarrassment,” as both Ma and Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) unwittingly helped a “fake” jobseeker, the reporter said.
The station labeled the news “exclusive coverage.”
Din Tai Fung said it was simply cooperating with a request from TV news reporters for a video shot showing people applying for a job at the fair, adding that the company was “shocked and bewildered” by the coverage.
The council also issued a statement lambasting SET-TV for a report it said violated journalistic ethics.
“A certain TV station required a [Din Tai Fung] employee to pose as a job applicant so they could get a shot showing how government officials interacted with jobseekers,” the council said. “The company followed the reporter’s request, but the TV station then proceeded to ridicule the government officials by making them appear oblivious to the arrangement.”
The commission’s Department of Communication Content Director Jason Ho (何吉森) said the news story was aired between 6:25pm and 6:28pm on Sunday.
Asked whether the commission considered the coverage to be a fabricated story, Ho said the decision would be made after receiving SET TV’s explanation.
NCC spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the commission had the power to insist SET correct the coverage within 20 days of its airing, as per Article 30 of the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法).
The same article also requires TV stations to respond in writing within 20 days on whether they believe the report in question to have been accurate.
“We could turn the case over to an independent content review committee if necessary,” Chen said.
A newspaper journalist who was also covering the job fair told the Taipei Times they were told beforehand that Ma would make a stop at the Din Tai Fung booth. Several TV news reporters then asked a Din Tai Fung employee to pose as a jobseeker for a shoot, she said.
However, the SET-TV reporter was nowhere near the booth when the request was made, she said.
SET stood by its reporter.
“The reporter covered the story based on the facts,” SET spokesperson Chang Cheng-fen (張正芬) said. “The Din Tai Fung employee admitted she was asked to pose as a job seeker after the reporter saw her wearing a work uniform after the interview.”
At a separate venue, Wang said she and Ma did not know of the request to the employee.
“I hope media coverage will be more truthful in the future so as not to discredit all the hard work that I and other employees at the council have done to improve the lot of workers,” Wang said.
The time taken to prepare a response to such a report was time she could not spend working toward improving workers’ conditions, she said.
Additional reporting by Jake Chung