Lawmakers at the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday examined the operations of the Taiwan Broadcasting System (TBS, 公廣集團), with some suggesting that TBS consider selling the Chinese Television System (CTS, 中華電視) to private companies given CTS losses over a number of years.
TBS is composed of five television stations — the Public Television Service (PTS, 公共電視), CTS, the Hakka Television Service (客家電視台), the Taiwan Indigenous Television Service (原住民電視台) and the Taiwan Macroview Television Service (宏觀電視).
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said that in the past, the government spent NT$900 million (US$28.1 million) annually supporting a PTS that was “small but beautiful.” However, she said it had now expanded into a humongous TBS, which was like a bottomless pit.
Hung added that CTS originally operated on a strictly commercial television model. After joining TBS, however, CTS was now positioned as a commercial television service to serve only the public interest
She said that the fact CTS had lost a huge chunk of revenue showed that it was impossible for TBS to continue its financial support for CTS.
“It [CTS] is like a malnourished child ... Why don’t we let other people take care of it if we don’t have the capacity to feed it?” she said.
CTS had already accumulated more than NT$1 billion in debt before it became a member of TBS, the TBS briefing to the committee said. The deficits had dropped to NT$560 million and NT$510 million in 2006 and last year respectively.
To cover CTS losses this year, the Executive Yuan has promised to subsidize it to the tune of NT$450 million.
Aside from CTS’ financial situation, Hung also pointed out the fact that the government had spent more than NT$20 billion sustaining TBS over the years, but it had only achieved ratings of 0.1 percent.
KMT Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) further questioned the way CTS board members were selected. She said that TBS board of directors were nominated by the Executive Yuan and must be approved the Legislative Yuan.
The CTS was supposed to have a total of 23 board members.
However, after the CTS was merged into TBS, nine CTS board positions must be held by the TBS board — five by private owners and one must represent CTS employees.
The remaining eight seats on the board were still chosen by TBS, but Lee said the way they were chosen was a mystery to the public.