Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) yesterday expressed regret over the withdrawal of several Chinese TV stations from this year’s Taipei TV Festival, allegedly due to China’s discontent with the participation of a TV station associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
“The political divergence [between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait] has made the exchange of broadcast content the most profound [cross-strait] cultural exchange we can have. The TV festival is a channel through which we can climb over that political fence,” Lung said.
Lung said the Chinese TV stations had “lost the forest for the trees” by withdrawing from the festival for political reasons, adding that while she understood there might be “certain rules” that those stations had to comply with, she hoped they could join next year’s festival.
Now in its 10th year, the festival — which opened yesterday and runs through tomorrow — has attracted 95 broadcasting and production companies from more than 14 countries, including the UK, the US, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Turkey, Greece, Vietnam and the Netherlands, to showcase their programs.
In previous years, about one-third of the exhibitors came from China, including some affiliated with the Chinese government. However, a Chinese delegation comprising of just over 100 representatives is attending this year.
According to a source familiar with the matter who spoke to the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), the Chinese stations’ withdrawal was in response to an order from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and State Administration of Radio Film and Television to avoid direct contact with representatives of New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV).
NTDTV was founded in the US in 2001 by several Chinese expatriates and Falun Gong practitioners with the aim of providing uncensored information to Chinese citizens and others and facilitating press freedom in China.
NTDTV had participated in the festival for the past few years, the source said, adding that the Chinese probably decided to boycott this year’s festival because of the change of venue.
“The festival had traditionally been held in the Grand Hotel, where participants were allowed to set up their exhibition stands in their respective rooms. However, this year the event has been moved to the Taipei World Trade Center Hall 3, an open-style exhibition hall,” the source said.
Lin Tung-cheng (林銅城), chief executive officer of festival organizer Hochan Entertainment Co confirmed the reports yesterday, but added that the boycott was motivated solely by NTDTV’s participation, not the change of venue.
NTDTV spokesperson Chu Wan-chi (朱婉琪) said the station was established to inform ethnic Chinese of the truth about China and that it neither encouraged nor opposed Chinese media joining the festival.