CtiTV’s news channel (中天新聞台) was fined NT$500,000 (US$16,500) yesterday for broadcasting derogatory comments about female participants in the Sunflower protest movement in one of its popular night-time talk shows.
The channel’s News Tornado (新聞龍捲風) program upset many viewers after one of its regular guests, Peng Hua-gan (彭華幹), commented on the appearance of two female participants in the movement against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact.
Based on an episode recorded by the National Communications Commission (NCC), Peng said that one of the women wore a “provocative” low-cut shirt, hot pants and thigh-high boots, which he said made her look “super hot.” He then moved his hands over a photograph of the woman as if to suggest that he was unbuttoning her shirt.
Peng then pointed to the photograph of another woman, who was wearing a see-through chiffon blouse while sleeping on the floor of the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber during the siege.
Commenting on the photograph, Peng said that this was why many people decided to cancel their tickets to the annual Spring Scream music festival in Kenting, because the festival would offer nothing like this to see.
Rather than stopping Peng from making any further comments, the show’s host, James Tai (戴立綱), encouraged the conversation.
The NCC received more than 1,000 complaints within just two days after the episode was aired.
Facing mounting criticism, Peng and Tai later apologized in the program for their comments.
As of yesterday, the number of complaints about the episode had reached about 9,000, the commission said.
NCC spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that the episode was viewed by an independent content review committee. Of the 19 committee members, 16 voted that the channel be punished and three voted that the channel be notified to address the situation.
The NCC commissioners affirmed the penalty recommended by the committee, which was to fine CtiTV NT$500,000 for violating the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法) by airing content disrupting public order or adversely affecting good social customs or norms.
“Even though this particular infringement was recorded for the first time in the past two years, the committee members deemed it a very serious violation, as the program aired comments that objectified and discriminated against women. The starting fine for a serious violation is set at NT$500,000,” the commission’s Communications Content Department specialist Lin Huei-lin (林慧玲) said.
The commission also asked the channel to submit a report on how the channel’s ethics committee works to control the quality of its programs.
The commission said that the channel is scheduled to renew its license at the end of this year, adding that it would take the violation into consideration when it reviews the channel’s license renewal application.
The channel has recorded eight violations in the past two years prior to this matter, with the total penalties topping NT$2.3 million.
They included infringements of the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act (性侵害犯罪防治法), the television program classification system, regulations separating television programs and advertisements, as well as the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法).