The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said that it has launched an investigation into CtiTV (中天) and China Television (CTV,中視) after a story published by the Financial Times on Wednesday alleged that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has been giving direct instructions to the editorial departments of both stations on how they should cover cross-strait issues.
The two stations’ intensive coverage of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) during his election campaign last year contributed to the emergence of a “Han Wave,” a political fervency that not only helped him win the mayoral election, but catapulted him to political stardom, the story added.
The report cited statements from a China Times reporter and a CtiTV journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
NCC Department of Broadcasting and Content specialist Chen Shu-ming (陳書銘) confirmed that the NCC had asked the management of CtiTV and CTV to visit the commission and explain themselves.
As it is an internal investigation, the results would be discussed at a NCC commissioners’ meeting before they are made public, he said.
“We have closely monitored the situation and launched an administrative investigation. Should there be clear evidence showing that foreign powers are trying to interfere in the operations of the nation’s broadcast media, and compromising their independence and professionalism, we would handle the case based on three broadcasting regulations. If the case has generated national security concerns, we would turn it over to the responsible agencies per the regulations stated in the National Security Act (國家安全法) and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例),” the commission said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the NCC had released a report that showed that certain news channels dedicated a significantly higher percentage of airtime to the coverage of specific politicians.
Except for Taiwan Television and Chinese Television System, which dedicated more time to stories related to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and former premier William Lai (賴清德), Han dominated the airwaves on the other nine news channels in terms of stories related to politicians and in terms of the time devoted to such coverage, regardless of if the story was positive or negative, the commission’s survey found.
The top three channels on which Han received the most coverage among all politicians were CtiTV, TVBS and ERA TV.
Specifically, Han was in 67.94 percent of CtiTV’s stories about politicians and accounted for 68.31 percent of the news, the survey showed.
CtiTV was also found to have covered Han the most during a survey in the two weeks leading to up the elections on Nov. 24 last year, as well as in March this year.
CtiTV and CTV are owned by Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時), which also owns the Chinese-language China Times.
Critics of the group have often labeled its media outlets as “red media” that favor China and many participated in a protest against the group on Ketagalan Boulevard last month.
CTV and CtiTV issued a joint statement accusing the Financial Times story of being fake news that intended to malign the media group and threatened to sue any media outlet or individual who quoted from the story.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), when asked to comment about the story on her trip to Central America, said that she had heard similar stories, adding that Taiwanese should be particularly alert to manipulative and false information, and help prevent the spread of such information.
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