The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it was considering pursuing legal action against the Chinese-language Next Magazine if it does not issue a correction to what the commission deemed an “untruthful” report accusing the commission’s southern region regulatory station of illegally occupying land belonging to a local resident and then asking to use it for free.
The commission’s statement marked the first time it has indicated that it may file a lawsuit against a media outlet.
According to the Next Media Group-owned weekly, a Greater Kaohsiung resident said the commission had not only occupied his property, but also sued him for turning down its request to use the land free of charge.
Responding to the story’s claims, the commission issued a statement asking the magazine to publish a correction in next week’s edition, and said that it would not rule out settling the matter in court.
“What the report said was obviously false. It is regrettable that the magazine based its story primarily on an unsubstantiated complaint from one property owner, which constitutes a serious breach of journalistic ethics,” the statement read.
NCC spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said the commission did not require the correction to be published in a specific format, before declining to comment on what action the government body would take if Next Magazine refused to comply.
The commission said it followed all relevant regulations when building its southern region regulatory station, including asking the Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Fongshan (鳳山) Land Office to redraw the land boundaries before it started constructing the station in 2010.
The office then surveyed the land in Fongshan District again, drawing protests from various property owners. To settle the disputes, the city government convened two meetings between the landowners, but they did not yield a result.
The commission then filed a lawsuit asking the courts to settle the disputes over land boundaries on the grounds that it was its duty to protect the station as it is a taxpayer-funded government property.
Station director Liu Fong-chang (劉豐章) said that there are neither plaintiffs nor defendants in the lawsuit, adding that the people listed in the suit are all stakeholders.
“The land office’s new land survey results have affected other property owners as well, not just the NCC,” Liu said.
“Because of these results, other people are now using land belonging to the commission. Likewise, the commission is using property belonging to other landowners. We simply followed the suggestion made at one of the settlement meetings to resolve the matter in court,” Liu said.