A cloud of uncertainty is hanging over the 70-odd employees at Taiwan Yam TV (蕃薯台), a pro-Taiwan localization television station, over rumors its management might change hands.
Wang Ben-hu (汪笨湖), a popular talk show host at the station, recently said on his program that “viewers watching Yam TV know something big is going to happen, we might be taken over.”
Station officials played down the remarks and did not respond to queries.
Based in Greater Tainan’s Anping District (安平), the station promotes pro-Taiwan localization, with most of its programs in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese).
The station also aids farmers by promoting and selling agricultural products. It also organizes rallies, such as one demanding medical parole for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is now serving a 18-and-a-half-year prison sentence on corruption charges.
On his show, Wang often discusses the plight of Chen, Taiwan’s democratic movement and Taiwanese human rights activists.
Recently, he said: “The person behind the scenes who is trying to take over Yam TV must give the matter serious thought.”
“We can let you have it, but you must not betray the inherent meaning of ‘yam’ and what it represents. If the yam becomes a red taro, then the will of the gods will have been violated,” he said.
In the Taiwanese vernacular, “yam” refers to benshengren (本省人), those people who came to Taiwan from China centuries ago, while “taro” refers to waishengren (外省人) — people who fled China with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) after 1949.
According to Wang, the station purchased its broadcasting license for NT$55 million (US$ 2.07 million) from the Guo Wei Station two years ago. The license is now worth around NT$130 million.
“At the time, we bought the station for NT$55 million and some people criticized us for it. Now the building is worth NT$70 million. We also have about 70 employees, which helps boost the local economy,” Wang said.
Wang went on to urge supporters to donate to a “Yam Capital Fund,” so that “we can find another field to plant yams.”