The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it would give television station ethics committee members the right to review and investigate any specific case.
The commission made the statement after it unveiled the results of administrative investigations at the ethics committees of CtiTV News and Next TV News. The commissioners focused on whether the two stations had stipulated guidelines governing the news coverage about the TV stations per se.
The investigation was launched because the two stations had promised to establish ethics committees. The stations also stirred controversies recently for engaging in heated verbal disputes over the Want Want China Times Group’s purchase of cable TV systems owned by China Network Systems.
CtiTV belongs to the Want Want China Times group and Next TV had tried in vain to be included in the China Network Systems’ cable TV services.
The investigation showed CtiTV’s ethics committee was formed in 2009 and has only been convened seven times since then, including the one where allegations against Academia Sinica associate research fellow Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) were discussed.
Next TV’s committee, on the other hand, was formed in October last year and has met 11 times since then.
“The ethics committee in CtiTV cannot propose to review any case, nor do they have the right to make suggestions,” commission spokesperson Wei Shyue-win (魏學文) said.
Huang Chin-yi (黃金益), director of the commission’s communication management department, added that while both stations have managed to post the minutes of each ethics committee meeting online, Next TV’s ethics committee uploaded the transcripts of opinions from all the committee members, which were much more detailed than ones uploaded by CtiTV.
“Next TV also has clearer guidelines as to how the ethics committee should work,” Huang said.
Wei said CtiTV apparently did not live up to its commitment to have an ethics committee, and the commission would ask the station to address the issue within a designated period of time.
It would continue to track the station’s improvement as well, he added.
The commission has set up a special taskforce to stipulate the guidelines governing the formation and operation of the ethics committee in a TV station, Wei said. The guidelines would be sent to each TV station so that each can change the rules of its ethics committee accordingly, he said.
According to Huang Chin-yi, the special taskforce would recommend that at least half of the ethics committee members be experts not affiliated with the station itself.
When reviewing any case, at least half the participants attending the meeting must be the experts from outside the TV stations.
“They [ethics committee members] can propose to review any case and have the right to investigate it,” he said, adding that the guidelines would ensure that the ethics committee can function properly without interfering with the internal station management.