TV news ethics committees fail evaluation: group

WATCHING THE NEWS::Web sites lack complaint forms, committees lack civic group members and independent experts, and coverage is sensationalistic

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Apr 02, 2013 - Page 3

About 70 percent of TV news Web sites do not have a section in which audiences can file complaints, a survey by a media watchdog group showed yesterday.

The survey was conducted by Citizen Media Watch (公民媒改聯盟), formed by 11 civic groups. They began evaluating the self-disciplinary mechanisms at the nation’s 11 TV news stations at the end of last year by examining their Web sites.

While the television stations all say that they have ethics committees, the survey found that 70 percent of the TV news Web sites do not provide a complaint form or any other mechanism allowing audiences to file complaints. Meanwhile, about 70 percent of the stations either do not invite representatives from civic groups to participate in the meetings of their ethics committees, or do not have independent media experts who regularly attend the meetings.

The survey also found that nearly half of the TV news Web sites do not explain how their ethics committees were formed and operate, and about 50 percent of them do not show how they deliberate or results of their deliberations.

Only Next Media’s ethics committee passed the evaluation. The average score of all the television stations was 43.9 points out of 100, with a majority faring poorly in their complaint mechanisms and handling of corrections of news stories.

Citizen Media Watch representative Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華) said that many people have complained that the television news coverage of recent murder cases was overly sensational, with some programs even simulating how the victims were killed.