People should be worried about the independence of local media as it carried a large amount of embedded marketing paid for by the central government or China, the Foundation for the Advancement of Media Excellence said on Monday.
The foundation cited US watchdog Freedom House’s recent report on media freedom, which concluded that it was worrisome that Taiwanese newspapers inserted news stories from Chinese state media and published news reports paid for by Chinese authorities without informing readers.
Such practices harmed people’s right to knowledge and could easily affect the local media’s independence, it said.
About 200 “ads” paid by Chinese government agencies were published in local newspapers last year, 119 of which were published following the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China in June 2010, said the foundation’s report, which was released last month.
Moreover, Taiwan’s five biggest local newspapers published a total of 1,349 government advertisements in the second half of last year, the foundation’s report said.
In December last year — in the run-up to the Jan. 14 presidential election — the number of ads seen to favor the government reached 295, the highest monthly figure of the second half of last year, it said.
The Taipei City Government, for example, advertised the 2017 Universiade — which it will be hosting — and a major road project 26 times last month, with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) photo appearing on more than 10 of the ads.
Other political figures, such as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), were also frequently seen in similar government ads, the foundation said.