The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it would work with the disciplinary committees of TV associations to improve the coverage of the presidential election after identifying several irregularities this year.
Commissioners were briefed yesterday by the commission’s broadcasting content department, which monitored the coverage of 15 television channels on Jan. 14, when the nation held the presidential and legislative elections.
Department director Jason Ho (何吉森) said their report showed that five TV news channels or programs failed to show where they obtained the initial vote counts: Taiwan Television (TTV), Chinese Television System, Eastern Television (ETTV) News, EBC Financial News — ETTV’s finance channel — and Gala Television One.
While the polls closed at 4pm on Jan. 14, Ho said, four channels — ETTV News, Sanlih E-Television News, TVBS-NEWS and EBC Financial News — began showing the vote counts at 4:01pm, which he said was unreasonable.
“Based on our understanding, it would have taken at least 10 minutes [after the polls were closed] for the votes to start trickling in,” he said.
The commission also found problems with the election coverage at Formosa Television (FTV), Public Television Service, ETTV News, CTi, FTV News and EBC Financial News.
FTV, for example, showed at 5:33pm that People First Party presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) garnered 1.26 million votes, which was a far cry from the actual number of votes.
CTi News, on the other hand, made a mistake in the total number of at-large legislators, which exceeded the number of seats available. Both channels apologized and made changes accordingly in their programs, Ho said.
While most of the TV stations began using the vote counts from the Central Election Commission (CEC) at about 9pm, ETTV News and EBC Financial News’ broadcasts were inconsistent with the CEC’s results.
Ho said that the NCC would ask the television stations to explain in written statements why these scenarios had occurred.
“We were told that the television stations obtained their initial vote counts from their reporters stationed at poll stations nationwide or from the vote-counting system of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT], which may explain the discrepancies at the beginning,” he said.
Ho said that members of the Satellite Television Broadcasting Association (STBA) had agreed to cover the elections using true and verifiable statistics, adding that the NCC would discuss with the association the need to revise the guidelines for reporting presidential elections.
In related news, the NCC said it has asked media outlets to restrain their coverage on any particular issue to avoid excluding other important news.
Ho said that the NCC has received many complaints over excessive media coverage of an altercation involving singer-actress Makiyo, the death of “Queen of Hats” Fong Fei-fei (鳳飛飛) and the rise of NBA player Jeremy Lin (林書豪). They said that the intensive reporting on these events has diminished the airtime allocated to other important news, both at home and overseas.
Film director Wu Nien-jen (吳念真) has also criticized the media hype on “Linsanity” in a post on his Facebook page.
“When I could only watch one news report on TV and saw guests on political talk shows talking about basketball and Jeremy Lin, I laughed myself to tears,” Wu said.