The Next TV Workers’ Union yesterday asked the National Communications Commission (NCC) to stipulate disease prevention guidelines for journalists in broadcast media and make sure that broadcasting firms follow the guidelines to protect workers’ safety.
The union issued the statement after one of the TV station’s photojournalists, surnamed Liu (劉), was found dead in a restroom at the station’s headquarters in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖). Liu tested positive for COVID-19.
The Taipei City Government yesterday conducted rapid screening tests on 166 Next TV employees, 11 of whom tested positive and were awaiting the results of polymerase chain reaction tests.
The TV station’s management did not handle the situation in a transparent manner, the union said, adding that it only learned about the passing of a colleague through media reports.
“The company also failed to thoroughly disinfect the work environment, restrict access to its headquarters and provide protective gear to journalists,” the union said. “The station’s operations would be severely affected if more confirmed cases of COVID-19 were found.”
When compiling a list of people who should be screened for COVID-19, the company should include people with whom Liu might have had close contact during the incubation period, such as photojournalists at other TV stations, convenience store employees, and custodians and security personnel at the company’s headquarters, the union said.
Next TV’s management should handle the crisis with transparency, include a union member in the emergency response team and give infected workers paid leave, the union said, adding that the NCC should have public health experts stipulate disease prevention guidelines.
If a TV station has a confirmed COVID-19 case, the commission should dispatch personnel to the station to check if the broadcaster has thoroughly followed the guidelines, it said.
“Television stations must maintain operations around the clock so that the public can receive updated disease prevention information. As such, the NCC has listed television stations as key infrastructure that must continue to operate if the COVID-19 alert is raised to level 4,” the union said.
“However, the government has let television stations decide how they should respond when workers test positive for COVID-19,” it said.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) should place journalists on the priority list for vaccination, the union said.
NCC Vice Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said that the commission has proposed that people maintaining submarine cables as well as those maintaining equipment and servers in telecommunications, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting services, be vaccinated first, as they are crucial in ensuring that key infrastructure remain functional amid the pandemic.
“For the next round, we would propose that broadcast media workers who do not work on key infrastructure could be vaccinated first as well,” he said.
The CECC at a news conference on May 20 suggested disease prevention guidelines for journalists, including voluntarily undergoing home quarantine if they are found to have come into close contact with infected interviewees for more than 15 minutes and disinfecting microphones frequently.
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