The state-owned Central News Agency (CNA) might be violating laws by allowing Chinese tourist and travel agencies to post advertisements on its Web sites, an opposition lawmaker said.
Democratic Progressive Party Lgislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) in 2004 established the Act on Management of Promotion of Goods and Services from Mainland China in Taiwan (大陸地區物品勞務服務在臺灣地區從事廣告活動管理辦法), which prohibit Chinese tourism and travel agencies from directly buying advertisements in Taiwan without prior approval.
“A citizen told me that the customer channel, an information platform, on the CNA Web site was filled with information on tourism in Fujian Province,” Chen said, adding that because CNA is a state-sponsored news agency, some would mistake the site for China’s Xinhua news agency.
“It is evident that CNA is violating the law, so why is the council turning a blind eye and not enforcing the law?” Chen asked. “Once the example has been set, would other media agencies be allowed to set up similar platforms allowing the Chinese tourism sector to post advertisements there as well?”
Chen said he did not understand why the government has not acted against such a blatant transgression of the law.
In response, CNA spokesperson Wu Su-jou (吳素柔) said: “CNA’s information platform is a service aimed at including everyone across the globe, and the ‘cross-strait travels’ platform was a special column sharing the information on tourism and travel information and was not an advertisement,” adding that CNA only charged a service fee for the use of the platform.
As for the name of cross-strait travel news center, Wu said that according to its own sales division, it was a “customer name,” more like a codename to identify a particular client, but Wu also added that she “was not at liberty” to name the unit posting the information.
Apparently unconvinced by CNA’s response, Chen said that because the content published online had hid the name of the poster, it was evidently an advertisement, adding that if it was not an advertisement, then it was placement marketing, a method of marketing that advertises a product or service without being a full-blown advertisement.
The MAC should have clear definitions concerning this issue, Chen added.
Commenting on the case, Tourism Bureau Planning and Research Division Deputy Director Yang Yeong-sheng (楊永盛) said that China’s “promotion of travel information” could be distributed through Taiwan-based travel agency Web sites.
This is primarily because travel agencies across the Taiwan Strait now are cooperating, necessitating the exchange of news, Yang said.
However, how to distinguish “advertisements” from “free promotion of travel information,” was up to the MAC, Yang said.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-chi
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer