National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday asked TVBS Media to offer a formal explanation as to why it removed an interview with American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty from its Web site after broadcasting it just once on cable television before the local elections in November last year.
The commission made the request after a preliminary review of a proposed change of management at the broadcaster.
Following the retirement of former chairman Harvey Chang (張孝威) in September, the company’s board has named VIA Technologies chairman Chen Wen-chi (陳文琦) as chairman and Arthur Ting (丁廣鋐) as vice chairman.
However, the change must be approved by the NCC.
NCC commissioners invited Chen and Ting to answer questions about the proposed changes, NCC chief secretary and acting spokesperson Hsiao Chi-hung (蕭祈宏) said.
Chen on Tuesday told the commissioners that he does not know how the network’s news channel reached the decision to remove the interview from its Web site, as he was not the chairman at the time, Hsiao said, adding that the network did not provide further information about the matter.
The commission raised other questions about the proposal, including why Ting is not involved in the operations of the network, given that he owns a 35 percent stake in it, Hsiao said.
Commissioners also asked Chen whether he tried to interfere with news production, following multiple media reports that he frequently visited the newsroom, Hsiao said.
Chen said that he stopped by the newsroom to understand how its broadcast equipment worked, the commission said.
Commissioners also asked why the network had left the position of company president vacant and why Chen needs to assume the positions of chairman and president at the same time, Hsiao added.
The commission said the president should have experience in news media and oversee daily operations of the news channel, Hsiao added.
In the exclusive interview, Moriarty said that “there obviously are attempts by external powers here in Taiwan to try and alter the debate and to spread false information, and those are dangerous.”
Local Chinese-language media have reported that footage of the interview was nowhere to be found after it was broadcast.
In related news, the commission yesterday revealed how major news channels covered politicians in August.
While Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who is the Chinese National Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, still dominated the air waves in terms of the number of news stories, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) ranked first in terms of news time allocated to him, the NCC said.
The coverage of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) and former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) surged during the period, as they are to compete for the legislative seat in Tainan’s sixth electoral district, it said.
In terms of air time dedicated to the coverage of politicians, the commission found that CtiTV has reduced the time spent on Han from 88.31 percent of the news time in March to 45.16 percent in August, and spent 25.77 percent of the time on Ko.
This indicated that the channel still focused on covering Han, the commission said.
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