Academics and industry professionals yesterday called for reform of the Taiwan Broadcasting System, which is made up of the Public Television Service (PTS), Chinese Television System (CTS), Hakka TV, Taiwan Macroview TV and Taiwan Indigenous TV at a national forum organized by the Ministry of Culture seeking opinions on the nation’s cultural development.
Citing examples of Japan’s NHK and the BBC in the UK, professor Liu Yu-li (劉幼琍) from the Department of Radio and Television at National Chengchi University urged that the responsibilities of PTS board of directors and managers should be clearly defined, leaving day-to-day operations and programming to professional managers, while board members are charged with overseeing the management.
Industry specialist and academic Hu Yuan-hui (胡元輝) expressed a similar view.
“The function of board members is to represent the public to supervise the overall direction the PTS takes,” Hu said. “Selected members should come from different backgrounds, fields and regions so that the makeup of the board can reflect a variety of public interests.”
The PTS sitting board members have seen their three-year tenures, which were scheduled to end on Dec. 3, 2010, extended for more than 19 months, as a result of judicial wrangling between the board and managers. A new governing body — its fifth — is currently under review.
Establishing internal supervision mechanisms within the PTS is also important, professor Kwan Shang-ren (關尚仁) from Shih Hsin University said.
“For example, public channels in many countries regularly have programs in which people are invited to review and discuss their performance,” Kwan said. “The ability of self-examination is essential if the PTS wants to fulfill its public interest promises.”
Other ways that a public television channel can become more open to the public include announcing its annual plans, submitting reports to congress and setting up committees to communicate with audiences, Hu added.
In terms of other members of the Taiwan Broadcasting System, Liu said future amendments to the Public Television Act (公共電視法) should include Hakka TV and Taiwan Indigenous TV as equals to PTS rather than simply being affiliated to it.
“The purpose of establishing Hakka and Indigenous television channels is to let different ethnic groups have their own media. So they should have full autonomy to plan and operate the channels,” he said.
Several participants at the meeting also urged the government to deal with the dilemma of CTS. With 83 percent of its shares owned by the government and 17 percent in the hands of private shareholders, the broadcaster “is like a schizophrenic who has to serve the public interest on the one hand and to make profits on the other,” Kwan said.
As for its long-term plans, the PTS needs to make the leap from its traditional role as a public service broadcaster to that of a public service media facility which covers diverse platforms such as mobile devices, academics said. Another possibility is to incorporate state-owned Radio Taiwan International and the Central News Agency into the public service system, Hu said.