Thu, Dec 04, 2014 - Page 3 News List

CtiTV’s license renewal panned

SQUEAKING BY:Despite 29 citations over six years —including one for comments about Sunflower movement protesters — the cable station was cleared for operations

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The National Communications Commission yesterday approved a license renewal application from CtiTV News (中天新聞台), adding that the television station needs to address four issues within six months after the renewal takes effect.

The channel’s six-year operational license is scheduled to expire on Thursday next week. Its renewal application drew a lot of attention, as night-time talk show, News Tornado (新聞龍捲風), was fined NT$500,000 (US$16,080) earlier this year after commentators made derogatory comments about female participants in this spring’s Sunflower movement protests against the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact.

The commission had said that the penalty would be taken into consideration when it reviewed the renewal application.

Netizens said that they are not surprised by the commission’s decision to renew CtiTV’s license, saying that the commission has become as worthless as the channel.

Commission statistics showed that the channel was sanctioned 29 times over the past six years, with accumulated penalties topping NT$12.23 million. Also, the channel passed one biennial evaluation and failed another two years ago.

Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that the regulator has taken the application seriously, as the news channel is one of the important conduits used by the public to obtain information and opinions about issues — and the commission’s decision would determine whether the channel could continue operating.

Yu added that CtiTV News is a cable news channel, not a terrestrial news channels. As cable news channels do not use limited national resources, license renewal applications are generally approved unless an applicant has committed a major infraction, he said.

Yu said the independent committee that conducts preliminary application reviews can choose to “pass” or “fail” applicants only after securing consent from two-thirds of review meeting participants, according to the guidelines governing such reviews.

“There were 11 members in the review meeting for CtiTV News, which means that any definite conclusion could be reached only by securing eight votes. However, five passed the application and the other six decided to let it fail. In other words, the preliminary review committee neither disapproved nor approved the application before submitting the case to the commission for a final decision,” Yu said.

Even though the committee members who decided against passing CtiTV’s application had expressed their opinions, none had clearly indicated that the application should be denied, Yu said.

“CtiTV topped other cable news channels in terms of commission punishments, but it has yet to reach a level that would trigger the alarm for a potential broadcast suspension,” Yu said, adding that the commission considers raising an alarm when any channel has accumulated NT$7 million in fines within two years.

Yu said that the channel must address four issues within six months after it receives its renewed license — increased staff training, adding civic group representatives to its ethics committee, hiring one more full-time editor and employing an independent reviewer.

Commission communication management department specialist Chan Yi-lian (詹懿廉) said this is the first time that the preliminary committee failed to reach a conclusion before presenting a case to commissioners.

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