Pan-blue camp supporters yesterday lodged a protest at the National Communications Commission (NCC) against what they say is a possible move by the government to shut down CTi News, adding that politics should not interfere with freedom of the press.
Protesters included representatives from the New Party, the Blue Sky Action Alliance, the 333 Political Party Alliance and other pan-blue groups.
“We stand here today because CTi News is one of the few media outlets in Taiwan that is still willing to give groups supporting unification with China a voice. If the news channel is gone, there would only be one voice in the nation,” New Party Chairman Wu Cherng-dean (吳成典) told reporters.
“Freedom of the press in a democratic country cannot be compromised. The government can use the law to handle any technical infraction committed by the news channel, but it cannot use its political judgement to determine if the channel should or should not be closed. That decision should be made by the market,” he added.
National Civil Servant Association honorary chairman Harry Lee (李來希) said that former NCC chairwoman Nicole Chan (詹婷怡) resigned after being scolded by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) at a Cabinet meeting for the commission’s failure to curb the spread of misinformation.
This shows that the NCC is no longer an independent agency, Lee said.
NCC Vice Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said the commission respects comments from the public.
“The commission is an independent collegial administrative organization and we hope that the public would leave us room to handle CTi News' license renewal application independently,” he said.
Meanwhile, pro-Taiwan activist groups called on NCC members to conduct a rigorous review and not act leniently against CTi News when having verified serious breaches and illegal conduct by the channel.
In light of the findings, the channel’s operating license must be withdrawn, in accordance with the law, they said.
Taiwan Society deputy chairman Chang Yeh-shen (張葉森) said CTi News executives are hiding behind freedom of speech and press freedom.
“Such freedoms in a democracy cannot be expanded to be boundless. Media outlets must have social responsibility, as they use public airwaves, and must not distort facts or fabricate news reports,” Chang said.
“The real issue is about national security, as CTi News is colluding with China to subvert Taiwan’s democracy through its pro-China agenda,” Chang added.
Northern Taiwan Society chairman Li Chuan-hsin (李川信) said that the Mainland Affairs Council last year verified that Beijing had paid Taiwanese tycoon Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) and his Want Want China Times Group NT$15.26 billion (US$528.17 million at the current exchange rate) in subsidies from 2007 to 2018, which Tsai confirmed in interviews.
Tsai’s conglomerate owns CTi News, the China Times newspaper, the Chinatimes.com news site and other media outlets in Taiwan, Li said.
“The main focus must be on the Chinese money behind CTi News, which carries out Beijing’s propaganda and disinformation campaigns,” he added.
“China is still at war against us, as Beijing has been preparing for a military attack to invade and take over Taiwan, and to subjugate Taiwan’s democracy under its communist rule,” Li said.
“So how can Taiwan continue to permit CTi News to operate? It is backed by money from an enemy state to brainwash Taiwanese with its political propaganda and fake news,” he said.
“It is clear that Tsai, with his media outlets, is promoting the ‘one country, two systems’ concept for China to annex Taiwan. So the NCC cannot go soft this time and must make stringent reviews on the many breaches by CTi News, which should be considered as a Chinese media outlet,” he added.
In other news, the NCC said that Fox Sports must complete all required administrative procedures before cable operators can remove the three sports channels in the network from their channel lineups.
The sports network yesterday announced that it would cease its operations in Taiwan on Jan. 1.
Commission specialist Huang Jui-ti (黃睿迪) said that Fox must first file an application to cease operations in Taiwan based on the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法).
Cable operators carrying the channels must also apply for a change in their channel lineups and make a public announcement by running a news ticker about it for at least five days before the channels are taken off the air, Huang said.
Consumers would be entitled to a refund if they do not wish to subscribe to a cable service without Fox Sports channels, the commission said, adding that cable operators must not charge subscribers for canceling their service contracts.
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