Broadcast media have an obligation to avoid spreading fake news and could face fines if they refuse to comply with broadcasting regulations, the National Communications Commission said yesterday, adding that it would be setting up a meeting with media representatives soon.
The problems resulting from fake news have been scrutinized following the death of Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), director-general of the Osaka branch of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
Su committed suicide after the media harshly criticized how the office handled tourists stranded in Osaka following Typhoon Jebi.
“Broadcast media must check the facts of news reports that they investigate and apply the principle of equality. Failure to apply these principles, which can harm public interests and disrupt public order, could result in a fine of up to NT$2 million [US$64,908], based on the regulations stated in the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法) and the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法),” the commission said.
It could also “order broadcast media to stop airing a program and to take action to rectify a situation,” it added.
The commission said that both acts have stipulated the fine since 2016, adding that some media have falsely reported that the commission is considering raising the fine for broadcast media found to spread fake news.
Individuals as well as government agencies should clarify any controversial facts about themselves that have been disseminated over the Internet, it said.
Depending on the laws they are charged with enforcing, government agencies should hold people accountable for spreading false reports, the commission added.
“The commission is overseeing whether broadcast media verify the facts that they present in news programs, regardless of the information’s source,” it said.
Verifying facts in news reports and editorials is an obligation of broadcast media that is stipulated in regulations, the commission said, adding that it should be the guiding principle for broadcast media when composing headlines and quoting statements from interviews.
Government agencies and broadcast media are encouraged to verify the facts in government information by first visiting the real-time news clarification Web site set up by the Executive Yuan, the commission said.
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