Control Yuan member Frank Wu (吳豐山) yesterday described the lingering controversy concerning board members at the Taiwan Public Television Service (PTS) as a “disgrace to the country” as he accepted requests from civil groups to look into the case.
A group of media reform activists from various organizations yesterday filed a complaint with the Control Yuan against Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) and Philip Yang (楊永明), former heads of the now-dissolved Government Information Office (GIO), the previous supervisory agency of the PTS.
Lin Lih-yun (林麗雲), director of the Graduate Institute of Journalism at National Taiwan University, said the former GIO officials should be charged with “negligence of duties” for failing to resolve the dispute, which has lasted for about 600 days.
The lengthy delay in forming a new board for the PTS, caused mainly by the GIO’s failure to act, has negatively affected the public interest, Lin said.
The controversy originated in June 2009 when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-dominated legislature passed an amendment to the Public Television Act (公共電視法) to raise the number of PTS board members. Civil groups alleged that the move was a political interference in the operation of the public broadcaster, and judicial wrangling between the government and managers ensued.
The three-year tenure of the sitting board members of the PTS expired in December 2010, but the broadcaster has not been able to bring in new, legally elected members.
“Over the past 18 months, we have not seen the GIO ministers proactively seeking to resolve the problem, leaving the board unable to decide on major policies concerning the PTS. We urged the Control Yuan to either impeach the former GIO ministers or censure the government,” Lin said.
The Ministry of Culture — the new government agency in charge of overseeing the PTS — is scheduled to hold a review meeting to select a new PTS governing body on Friday.
As it appeared unlikely that the ministry would publicize the nominee list beforehand, a group comprised of media reform advocates and academics, published an open letter on Saturday calling for review committee members for nominees to the PTS board of directors to demand an open and transparent review to avoid becoming a rubber-stamp for the government.
According to Huang Shih-shin (黃世鑫), a review committee member recommended by the Democratic Progressive Party, the ministry insists on disclosing the nomination list to the committee, just three hours before the review meeting on Friday.
Additional reporting by staff writer