Thu, Apr 18, 2019 - Page 3 News List

NCC asks stations for better fact-checks

NO EXCUSES:While the broadcasts were related to an overseas event or were open to public comments, the agency said all five news channels had ‘room to improve’

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

National Communications Commission spokesman Wong Po-tsung, second right, listens at the commission’s office in Taipei yesterday as Department of Broadcasting and Content Director Huang Chin-yi, left, talks about measures to counter false news reports.

Photo: Liu Li-jen, Taipei Times

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday asked five TV news channels to improve their fact-verification mechanisms over their broadcasts of a false story that Beijing deployed tour buses to evacuate Chinese stranded at Kansai International Airport when Japan was struck by Typhoon Jebi last year.

The report was widely perceived as a contributing factor to the suicide of Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), who was director-general of the Osaka branch of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office before his death on Sept. 14 last year.

While Su reportedly committed suicide due to severe criticism for not evacuating Taiwanese stranded at the airport, his wife in December last year said in a statement that it was the “anticipated humiliation” by his superiors that caused him to take his own life.

Next TV, Sanlih TV and TVBS News all reported on the false story on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 last year, and viewers complained that the news stations did not verify the authenticity of the information before broadcasting it, NCC spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

The commission had turned the case over to its content review committee, which is comprised of experts from various disciplines, for further deliberation, he said.

“As the report involved the coverage of a major natural disaster that happened overseas, it is possible that the news stations might have needed to constantly update their information,” Wong said.

“However, the three stations still have room to improve when it comes to citing online sources and verifying information from overseas. As such, the committee ruled that they need to work on improving their fact-checking mechanisms,” he said.

“In addition, they must review their standardized operating procedures for citing online sources and reporting on events that happen in other nations, and submit reports to the commission within three months,” he added.

Eastern Broadcasting Co and CtiTV also covered the false story in their political talk shows, Wong said.

“Although such programming is open to comments from the public, these two news stations need to be more well-rounded when it comes to checking facts,” Wong said. “They should adhere to their codes of conduct and improve their fact-verification mechanisms.”

“In the meantime, they must stipulate guidelines for producing and broadcasting political talk shows within three months,” he said.

As what happened at the airport was caused by a natural disaster, the public’s right to know might be affected if any news station must ascertain that a piece of information is absolutely true before reporting on it, Department of Broadcasting and Content Director Huang Chin-yi (黃金益) said.

News stations are also obligated to tell the public how they verified the information after a broadcast and must indicate reservations about any discrepancies in the information, he said.

Asked how the news media should verify if a claim by Hong Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) that it was the sea goddess Matsu who told him in a dream that he should run for president, Huang said that the media would need to verify if that was indeed what Gou has said.

Gou, on the other hand, must be responsible for his own statements, Huang added.

In related news, TV channels LS Time and MBC Hua-Yi were fined NT$600,000 and NT$800,000 respectively for failing to air enough domestically produced or new programs in compliance with regulatory criteria, the NCC said.

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