Foreign media and the international community should be concerned about the possibility of press freedom and freedom of speech being oppressed in Taiwan, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday.
The KMT made the call at an international news conference in Taipei ahead of the CTi News channel going off the air at 12am today.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) on Nov. 18 said that it would not renew CTi News’ broadcast license, citing “repeated violations of regulations and the failure of its internal discipline and control mechanisms.”
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
CTi TV has said that the NCC’s decision was politically motivated, as CTi News is known for being critical of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration and friendly toward China.
The Taipei High Administrative Court on Monday rejected a request by CTi TV for an injunction to prevent the shutdown of its CTi News channel, meaning that CTi News is to cease broadcasting on local TV networks from today.
The DPP government cannot dismiss a news channel because it disagrees with government positions on matters, as it is the media’s role to oversee the government, not become its mouthpiece, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) told the news conference.
Freedom of the press is a basic human right and President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration denying it greatly harms Taiwan’s international image of having freedom of speech, he said.
“One wonders whether Taiwan is still a democracy, or under an authoritarian government, as the government weeds out opinions and voices contrary to its own,” he said.
The NCC’s refusal to extend CTi News’ license undercuts claims that the commission is independent, Chiang said, adding that the suspicion is that it has infringed on democratic freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
The KMT cited files, allegedly leaked from the Presidential Office in May, as evidence that the NCC’s refusal to extend the license was a predetermined decision, not based on CTi having “failed to self-regulate.”
On May 15, an e-mail account named “ser lo” sent to members of the media on the Presidential Office’s contact list two e-mails containing several files, purportedly documents prepared by aides for two meetings between Tsai and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) regarding the selection of members of Tsai’s second-term Cabinet.
One of the documents reportedly said that of the three newly appointed NCC commissioners, two were pan-green in ideology and could “assist with handling CTi News.”
Meanwhile, former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told the news conference that a statement issued on Nov. 18 by Reporters Without Borders “does not resemble commentary from professional media personnel.”
The statement said that the decision not to renew CTi News’ license was “regrettable, but does not go against press freedom.”
Press freedom does not mean “without regulations” and the review of the license was a legitimate action, the statement said.
It is interesting that the organization’s reaction differed from the past, Chiang said, adding that the ratio of media in Taiwan that oversee the government to that which critique the opposition is heavily skewed in the government’s favor.
CTi News provided information for the public to form their own opinions and its removal was, essentially, divesting the public of differing opinions and commentary, Ma said, adding that unless one lives in an autocratic nation, shutting down a TV station harms press freedom.
Additional reporting by CNA
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