CtiTV News (中天新聞) has been fined a total of NT$1 million (US$32,409) for failing to adhere to the fact-verification mechanism stipulated in the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法), the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.
The decision to penalize the TV station was first reached by a content review committee made up of independent experts from a variety of academic backgrounds. NCC commissioners yesterday confirmed the decision at their weekly meeting.
The station on Feb. 28 broadcast a report about Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) visit in Singapore saying that Representative to Singapore Francis Liang (梁國新) was monitoring Han’s whereabouts and reporting them to Taipei, the commission said.
Photo: Chang Ching-ya, Taipei Times
That was a contravention of Article 27 of the act, which bans news stations from producing and broadcasting content that breaches the principle of fact verification, resulting in a NT$600,000 fine, it said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a statement refuting the report, but the station did not issue a correction afterward, it added.
Citing the same article, the commission also fined the station NT$400,000 for airing a report on Feb. 18 saying that an “auspicious cloud” had appeared in the sky when Han, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) campaigned together at a rally last year.
The commission said that it had launched an administrative investigation into CtiTV’s operations following complaints from viewers, who said the station has been devoting an excessively high percentage of coverage to Han.
The results of the investigation were also deliberated by the committee, whose members ruled unanimously that CtiTV has covered and broadcast news about Han in a way that has hindered people from accessing other types of news, the commission said, adding that this exposed the station’s failure to follow its own code of conduct.
Citing Article 43 of the act, the commission said that it has ordered CtiTV to undertake several steps to improve its operations.
The station must fill senior management vacancies at its news department within one month after receiving the commission’s official ruling, the NCC said.
The station must explain when it will recruit a qualified ombudsman to oversee its operations, as it had promised to do so when renewing its license in 2015, the commission said, adding that CtiTV must also offer an official explanation of the division of labor in its news department.
CtiTV has been instructed to evaluate its operations and propose improvements, the commission said, adding that it must submit a report on those aspects within a month of receiving the ruling.
Specifically, the report must include the station’s guidelines for covering, editing and broadcasting news and commentary, as well as how it plans to adhere to the principle of fact verification, and fair and balanced news coverage, the NCC added.
A plan to provide training to employees must also be included in the report, it said.
CtiTV must review the qualifications of its ethics committee members and explain how it would implement their suggestions, the commission said, adding that if the station fails to carry out the tasks, it would receive an additional fine and be asked to remove the management of its news department.
The commission said that it analyzed the station’s news broadcasts at 1pm, 7pm and 8pm from Feb. 11 to Feb. 17, and found that on Feb. 16, coverage of Han constituted 56.7 percent of the total content, higher than any other day in the period.
On Feb. 14, 50 percent of the station’s news headlines included Han’s name, the highest in the period, it said.
Overall, Han’s name appeared in more than 30 percent of CtiTV’s evening news stories, it added.
“We are not saying that CtiTV cannot report on Han, but it must follow its code of conduct and self-discipline guidelines when covering him,” NCC spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.
CtiTV said the punishment was unacceptable and would seek administrative remedies.
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