Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said the government would continue monitoring the Apple Daily newspaper’s online service News-in-Motion after the paper’s management promised to introduce a ratings system for the controversial animated news feature.
Hau said his decision to get tough on the Next Media Group was aimed at making new media outlets consider rating their content.
While the central government has yet to take action, Hau yesterday urged it to “continue to take the matter seriously.”
The Chinese-language United Daily News reported yesterday that the Presidential Office had complimented the city on its swift response.
The city, however, has received a mixed response to its actions. Hau yesterday said he welcomed public scrutiny.
“I am open to criticism as all policy is subject to public scrutiny,” he said.
He said it was the appropriate course of action now that the Apple Daily had decided to classify the content, adding that it proved that the city was right.
The city will continue to monitor News-in-Motion, he said, to ensure that it conforms to the Children and Juveniles Welfare Act (兒童及青少年福利法).
Hau made the remarks while attending an annual prayer breakfast meeting in Taipei yesterday.
The Apple Daily — published by Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英) — launched the feature last week in a trial run as the Apple Group expands from print to TV.
The service is only accessible to readers who pay a fee.
It uses animated graphics to reconstruct stories that appear in the newspaper and can also be viewed by cellphone users who scan a bar code printed in the newspaper. Some of the stories feature sexual content and violence.
The Taipei City Government fined Next Media on Wednesday and Thursday for violating the media classification regulations in the Children and Juveniles Welfare Act.
In addition to the two NT$500,000 fines, the city government asked public schools to stop subscribing to the paper and banned teenagers under 18 years old from borrowing the paper in public libraries.
Also on Friday, Minister of Education Wu Ching-chi (吳清基) said News-in-Motion had been barred from the Taiwan Academic Network (TAnet) to protect school children and youngsters from obscene and harmful content.
TAnet is the network covering all academic and educational establishments.
Wu said his ministry had also asked all county and city governments to instruct schools to advise students to stay away from the site’s “scandalous and polluted media content.”
“Any obscene or harmful information, not just News-in-Motion, will be banned from TAnet,” the minister said.
The paper hit back on Friday, its front page accusing the city government of exercising “martial law” and threatening to sue it for “trampling on the freedom of the press.”
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