CtiTV News has been fined NT$600,000 (US$20,033) for broadcasting a false statement by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Tainan City Councilor Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介) in one of its political talk shows, the National Communications Commission said yesterday.
Viewers had complained about an episode of News Tornado (新聞龍捲風) aired on June 24 last year, the commission said.
According to the commission’s archival footage, the talk show host called Hsieh, who said that police could accurately count the number of people at a campaign rally in Hsinchu in support of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who was then the KMT’s presidential candidate, because the government was monitoring the whereabouts of Han’s supporters through their mobile phones.
Police could also determine the age group and gender of the supporters by examining the personal information registered to mobile phone numbers serviced by six to eight base stations surrounding the rally’s venue, Hsieh said.
Hsieh’s comments were determined to be rumors intended to cause panic, the commission said.
“In this case, the host should have pressed Hsieh for evidence to support his claims, but failed to do so,” it said.
“The channel was fined NT$600,000 for breaching Article 27 of the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法), which stipulates that broadcast news media should not impugn on the principle of fact verification, and causing damage to the public interest,” Department of Broadcasting and Content specialist Chen Shu-ming (陳書銘) said.
CtiTV has been fined a total of NT$5.63 million for contravening the act 11 times since last year, he said, adding that seven of the infractions were related to coverage of Han.
As CtiTV is to renew its license at the end of this year, the commission would take all factors into consideration when reviewing its license renewal application, including its record of offenses, commission acting spokesman Hsiao Chi-hung (蕭祈宏) said.
The Taipei District Court on Jan. 2 overturned a NT$200,000 fine the commission last year imposed on CtiTV for failing to fact-check when reporting about a November 2018 rally in Kaohsiung’s Cishan District (旗山) by former Democratic Progressive Party legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), who was then the party’s Kaohsiung mayoral candidate.
Although the commission has vowed to appeal the court’s ruling, industry observers said that the verdict would likely goad the channel into pursuing another Han-related lawsuit.
Meanwhile, SET-TV News and Formosa TV News were asked to improve the quality of their news programming after they allegedly misquoted a question by Han to Chen Chi-mai, who had assumed the post of vice premier after losing the election to Han, during a joint inspection of the city last year.
Han had said: “Why did dengue fever spread from this particular borough to other boroughs,” but the two stations quoted him as saying: “Why would dengue fever spread?”
Both stations claimed that their reporters’ microphones failed to pick up the latter part of Han’s statement because Han and Chen Chi-mai were surrounded by too many reporters at the time, but the commission told them that they should not misquote statements and issue corrections if they do, Chen Shu-ming said.
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