The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday reiterated that it would continue to work with national security officials to discover whether any broadcast media in Taiwan have accepted funding from China or are compromising press freedom.
The commission has asked the management of Eastern Broadcasting Company (EBC), CtiTV and China Television Co (CTV) to come to its offices on Monday to answer questions regarding the accusations made by self-confessed Chinese spy William Wang Liqiang (王立強), NCC acting spokesman Hsiao Chi-hung (蕭祈宏) said.
Wang alleged in an interview with Australian TV program 60 Minutes that part of his job was to infiltrate the Taiwanese media, temples and grassroots organizations to sway public opinion in Beijing’s favor.
Although Wang did not mention any specific Taiwanese media outlets, Vision Times, a New York-based weekly newspaper, accused EBC, CtiTV and CTV of accepting funding from China.
All three news channels have denied the accusation, Hsiao said.
“We of course are concerned about the development of these allegations. It is not easy to establish a democratic country, and the last thing we want to see is an adversarial regime exploiting freedom of speech to damage our democracy,” Hsiao said.
In other developments, CtiTV has been asked by the commission to turn in a report by Dec. 16 to explain how its news channel has changed after it invited an independent ombudsman to oversee its operations.
The report should be uploaded to its Web site for the public to view, the commission said.
Having received multiple viewer complaints, the commission earlier this year ruled that the channel had mismanaged its operations, adding that it should quickly recruit a qualified ombudsman to oversee its operations, as it had promised to do so when renewing its license in 2015.
Both CtiTV News’ ombudsman, Shih Hsin University vice prinicipal Chen Ching-ho (陳清河), as well as CtiTV chairman Pan Zu-yin (潘祖蔭), visited the commission yesterday and briefed NCC commissioners about how the news channel’s operations had changed in the past few months, Hsiao said.
“Chen told the commissioners that he has made 20 suggestions to the news channel and asked it to strictly adhere to the principle of fair and balanced news coverage, adding that it should verify the authenticity of information,” Hsiao said.
“He also required that guests invited on political talk shows must be from diverse backgrounds,” he said.
While the commissioners acknowledged that the channel has indeed shown signs of improvement, they were concerned about its accountability system, saying that it should regularly report to the public how it implements the changes proposed by the ombudsman and the criteria it sets to evaluate its improvement, Hsiao said.
The commission also ruled that TVBS chairman Chen Wen-chi (陳文琦) and vice chairman Arthur Ting (丁廣鋐) — who were both elected by the network’s board in September — must visit the commission and answer questions about their roles in the network’s operation to facilitate the commission’s review of the network’s application for management change.
It also ruled that TVBS should submit a statement about the two men’s job descriptions.
The commission issued the ruling yesterday after TVBS rejected its request that Ting visit the commission on the grounds that he only answered to the network’s board of directors and would not be involved in its daily operations.
“We want to know why Ting is not involved in the network’s operations, given that he owns a 35 percent stake in it,” Hsiao said.
Discussing the removal of an interview with American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty from TVBS’ Web site before the elections on Nov. 24, Hsiao said that the network said it had broadcast the interview four times on its news channel before putting it on its Web site.
TVBS said that the interview was taken down from its Web site, because some people questioned the position held by Moriarty, adding that it changed its operating procedures after the controversy.
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