TV station fined over shareholding breach

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 12, 2019 - Page 2

Taiwan Arts and Culture Television, whose largest shareholder is Zen Master Miaotian (妙天禪師), was fined NT$2 million (US$64,062) for breaching regulations banning investment in broadcast media by the government, political parties and the military, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.

NCC acting spokesman Hsiao Chi-hung (蕭祈宏) said that Miaotian holds 70 percent of the shares in the channel and is a board member.

When the channel’s management applied for a license renewal in 2017, it signed an affidavit stating that its shareholders do not include the government, political parties or the military, he said.

However, when the commission checked the Ministry of the Interior’s Web site of Parties and National Political Associations, it showed that Miaotian was the founder of the Congress Party Alliance (國會政黨聯盟), Hsiao said.

“As the founder of the political party, Miaotian should not overlook such severe violation of the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法),” he said.

NCC commissioners ruled that the channel had contravened sections 4 and 5 of Article No.5, which ban political party workers, political appointees and elected public officials from investing in satellite broadcasting businesses, or from assuming positions of promoters, directors, supervisors or managerial officers of a satellite broadcasting business.

The channel was fined NT$2 million for contravening the two regulations, Hsiao said.

It was also asked to remove Miaotian from the board within a month and dealing with his shareholdings in an appropriate manner within two months.

The commission can continuously fine the channel until it addresses these problems, Hsiao said, adding that it could revoke its license if the commission deems it has committed a severe offense.

In other developments, the NCC said that it would closely monitor the performance of CtiTV News after it appointed Shih Hsin University vice president Chen Chin-ho (陳清河) as its independent ombudsman, a post the channel pledged to create when it applied for license renewal in 2014.

The channel has yet to live up to the ethical standards of a TV news station, the commission said.

CtiTV News last year received many complaints from viewers about its campaign coverage for the nine-in-one elections, which was found to have favored certain political candidates.

CtiTV News chairman Pan Zu-yin (潘祖蔭) and Chen were at the NCC’s office yesterday to answer questions from the commissioners.

“Chen told the commissioners that he took the job out of a sense of responsibility and faith in the channel. Because this is the first time that a local TV station has created such a post, he was curious as to how it would work,” Hsiao said, adding that he started work on July 1.

Chen also assured the commission that CTiTV News has stopped citing comments from political talk shows and that there would be a clear separation between news, political talk shows and online information, Hsiao said.

Chen also did not see a conflict of interest between his job at Shin Hsin University and the television station, adding that he would be able to remain neutral because he is not part of the system, Hsiao said.