CtiTV News has been fined NT$500,000 for failing to appoint an ombudsman as it pledged to do so when applying for a license renewal in 2014, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.
The commission said it conducted investigations after receiving complaints from viewers and in March ruled that CtiTV had breached the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法) by overreporting on certain politicians to the point of compromising the diversity of news content and failing to fully implement its self-regulation mechanism when producing news.
The commission asked CtiTV News to address the infringement within a month after issuing the ruling on May 10, NCC acting spokesperson Hsiao Chi-hung (蕭祈宏) said.
Specifically, the news channel was asked to appoint an ombudsman as it had promised and quickly fill vacant management positions, he said.
It was also asked to submit a report to the NCC on how it plans to implement a fact-checking mechanism and ensure that it follows the principle of balanced coverage, he said, adding that the report should state how the channel would train its reporters on following the guidelines on fact-checking and fair news coverage.
The channel should also review the operations of its news ethics committee and determine whether it has an adequate number of committee members with extensive experience in news media, and ensure that it follows the committee’s resolutions, Hsiao said.
While the channel has submitted a report by the deadline as requested, it has yet to appoint an independent ombudsman, Hsiao said.
Instead, the channel plans to use its self-regulatory system to fulfill the commission’s request, he said.
“NCC commissioners said that having an ombudsman was one of the conditions laid out by the commission when it agreed to let CtiTV News renew its license in 2014, which the channel also pledged to follow. They said the channel not adhering to the principle of balanced coverage and news diversity showed that its self-regulatory mechanism has failed to address these problems. Having an ombudsman, who should be given a greater authority to review the channel’s news content, should help address the problems,” Hsiao said.
As the channel did not appoint an ombudsman by the deadline, it was fined for breaching the act and was given a month to address the issue, Hsiao said, adding that the commission might fine the news channel again if it does not appoint an ombudsman by the deadline.
CtiTV, along with China Television Co (CTV), belong to China-leaning Want Want China Times Group, which also owns Chinese-language dailies China Times and Commercial Times.
Reporters and editors from CtiTV, CTV and China Times attending a news conference at which the NCC announced its ruling took turns questioning the fairness of the decision.
They asked why the commission only required CtiTV to appoint an ombudsman when it did not impose such a requirement on other news channels.
They also said CtiTV has repeatedly told the commission that its self-regulatory mechanism could fulfill the functions of an ombudsman and that its own ethics committee had also found the post unnecessary.
The NCC said that CtiTV promised on its own initiative to appoint an ombudsman within six months when the commission reviewed its license renewal application in 2014, and the commission then turned the pledge into one of the conditions for approving the application.
CtiTV should have appealed the ruling and sought other administrative remedies if it thought the commission’s ruling was unfair, but it has done nothing of the sort, the commission said.
The NCC said it interpreted the channel’s silence as conforming to the ruling.
Before the renewal, the commission had entrusted an independent committee to review CtiTV’s performance, which had recommended that the commission reject the channel’s license renewal application.
However, the commission did not follow the recommendation, it said.
In other developments, CtiTV, CTV and TVBS were fined NT$400,000, NT$200,000 and NT$200,000 respectively for displaying images of a man being tortured by gangsters, it said.
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