Draft media act in the spotlight

GAUGE OF INFLUENCE::While some said that the draft act was too wide in scope, others said that measures of a media outlet’s influence on public opinion were flawed

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - Page 4

Lawmakers, experts and media industry representatives said that the media anti-monopoly act should be used to regulate TV news channels and cable system operators as well as other influential media outlets, but not all media outlets.

The remarks were made during a public hearing on the draft broadcasting media monopolization prevention and diversity preservation act (廣播電視壟斷防制與多元維護法), held yesterday by the legislature’s Transportation Committee.

National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) and Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) also attended the hearing.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said the draft act includes all media outlets, but that this is not necessary.

He said the NCC should simply regulate and restrict the development of terrestrial TV stations, cable TV stations, national daily newspapers, national radio services and finance news channels.

Deputy Secretary-General of the Consumer Foundation Lin Tsung-nan (林宗男) said that the act should clearly set boundaries for media outlets.

He said that the legislation should focus on “catching big fish” and should not interfere with the development of smaller media outlets in an age of digital convergence.

Cable Broadband Institute in Taiwan director-general Peng Shu-fen (彭淑芬) said that the media industry in Taiwan is struggling, and that the NCC should help it develop. Peng added that the commission should solely regulate TV news channels and leave other channels alone.

Association of Taiwan Journalists chairwoman Chen Hsiao-yi (陳曉宜) questioned the use of viewership, listenership and readership figures as indicators of the influence a media outlet has on public opinion.

She said media outlets are operating in an uncertain environment and need a reliable third party to determine a media outlet’s level of influence.

Youth Alliance Against Media Monsters representative Wu Hsueh-chan (吳學展) said that the NCC should not take out a transitional clause that would require all media outlets to comply with the act once it is approved by the legislature.

In response to the points raised, Shyr said that TV news channels are not the only outlets that can influence the nation, adding that the commission would regulate news and non-news channels, but with the former being asked to follow stricter regulations.

Shyr also defended the use of the three stated indicators of media influence referred to in the draft, saying that they are the best way to measure how the public absorbs information.