Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Public Television, Private Interests

Freedom House warned on the political maneuvering around Taiwan's Public Television Service....
Freedom House urges Taiwan to safeguard the integrity of the country’s public broadcaster following the removal of its leadership.
On September 19, Taiwan’s Public Television Service Foundation, the entity that oversees the Public Television Service (PTS), took the unusual step of removing the station’s leadership, Sylvia Feng (President and CEO) and Chung Yu-yuan (Executive Vice President), just three months before their three-year terms were set to expire. The Public Broadcasting Foundation claimed that the firings were made on the basis of poor performance, an assertion that Feng and Chung reject and may challenge in court.
The changes at the PTS are being made within a context of a highly polemical and politically polarized media environment in Taiwan. They also come just eight weeks before the country’s important municipal elections. Wu Tsang-Rong, Director of the Administration Department, will apparently assume the position of interim director of Taiwan’s PTS.
Reporters without Borders has also criticized the move.

The struggle by the KMT to gain control of the Public Television Service (PTS) was outlined in a Taipei Times editorial from a few days ago. According to the editorial, in December of 2008, "the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee passed a resolution proposed by KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) to freeze the PTS’ budget for last year unless the broadcaster gained approval from the GIO for every item on its budget request." Item by item review by the GIO essentially gives the GIO head, a political appointee, control over everything PTS does.

But that was still too much freedom for the PTS, so in June of 2009 the legislature enlarged the board of directors for the PTS. Since the PTS is funded by the GIO, the GIO instantly appointed eight new directors. You can imagine which party they supported. In September the GIO sued six of the 11 remaining directors, saying they were illegally holding meetings without the necessary quorum.

In Dec of 2009 the Control Yuan censured the GIO for increasing the number of board members, a widely criticized move. In calling for a Control Yuan investigation of these shenanigans, the Taipei Times wrote:
Adding to the controversy was last month’s dismissal of PTS Foundation president and chief executive Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢), who had worked for the station for 12 years, on grounds of incompetence by acting PTS chairman and KMT supporter Chen Sheng-fu (陳勝福). This was while, under Feng’s leadership, funds raised by the PTS skyrocketed to close to NT$10 million (US$321,000) in the second half of last year and the PTS’ viewership rate had grown from 0.03 percent in 1998 to 0.18 percent last year.
The campaign against PTS is also part of a larger campaign to gain ascendancy over the media that has unfolded since Ma took power. Another piece in the Taipei Times summed it up:
After Ma came into power, his administration changed the national news agency, the Central News Agency, so it now gives preference to the KMT’s party-state. It also forced out the chairperson and the management team of Radio Taiwan International and used placement marketing to gain total control over the media. It has also planned to curtail the independence of the National Communication Commission.
The irony of the move against the NCC is that the NCC was created under the Chen Administration in 2006 by the KMT controlled legislature to bring mass media under the control of the government. The Executive Branch, then controlled by the DPP, argued that it should have the authority to appoint NCC commission members, but the legislature clearly intended that it would have the last word on who the commission members were. Since the legislature was controlled by the KMT and its allies, the intent of the law was obvious: it was a legislative end-run around the DPP controlled executive branch intended to restore KMT control over the media and chill pro-Taiwan speech by centralizing control of the media oversight in KMT hands.

Yet even that had too much independence for this Administration to stomach.

Sylvia Feng had a piece in Apple Daily last month giving her point of view.

Some people said: you all are not an "us", you should quit. Yes, I am not any politician's "one of us". Legislators asked us to stop a program, we didn't agree to do that. The GIO told us to discuss with the CNR and CNA to determine how to coordinate reports on the Taipei Floral Exhibtion, we declined. We were the first to report on the problems of the Tapu farmers [land seizures in Miaoli - MT] . From the standpoint of the traditional media role of something that business and government lean on, we are idiots and loners.
Today we are all idiots and loners.
Daily Links:
  • NOT TO BE MISSED: Danny Bloom's excellent piece on Taiwan's 886 international phone code.
  • The era of great power politics in Asia isn't over.
  • Intelligence agent busted for deleting files of Chinese persons of interest. Out of laziness, it said. I hope that's true.
  • Hot money inflows forcing NT to rise, Central Bank intervenes.
  • Reuters Factbox: Key Political Risks in Taiwan.
  • Podcast: Our life in Taiwan: the Grand Hotel with much snark.
  • A commenter alerted me to the Google Earth updated Senkaku area. If you fly over you can read the competing markers that ROC and PRC nationalists have placed there.
  • James Fallows writes:
    In mentioning, earlier this afternoon, that Christine O'Donnell had claimed in 2006 to have secret-document proof of China's master plan to conquer America, I left out the context. Several readers have helpfully pointed out that she made the remarks in a primary-campaign debate -- and directed them to a primary opponent who beat her (handily) and another candidate (narrowly) to win the Republican nomination. He is a Harvard Law School graduate and Temple University Law School professor named Jan C. Ting... Stay classy, Christine!
    Ting was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His father was an immigrant from China who left to escape the Japanese invasion and served as a doctor in the US Army in WWII. Christine O'Donnell is beyond disgusting.
  • Every married man knows it: the more women in a group, the smarter it is.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Hans said...

Great respect to Sylvia. This kind of attitude in the media world would be praised and heard. Wish we could have more of those.

Anonymous said...

I've commented before--the Ma Administration has totally changed RTI (Radio Taiwan International) to become not an advocate of Taiwan, but an advocate of the Ma administration and cheerleaders for the KMT.

Sadly, they have had nothing to cheer about these last two years.

Anonymous said...

Okinawa is not part of Japan.

The Ryukyuan Kingdom is now illegaly part of Japan as a result of Japanese invasion and colonization and American intervention.

During the Battle of Okinawa Japan lost over 100,000 troops, and the Allies suffered more than 50,000 casualties. Simultaneously, more than 100,000 civilians (12,000 in action) were killed, wounded, or were forced by the the Japanese colonizer to commit suicide.
Old men, women and children were pushed-off cliffs , forced to blow themselves by grenade in caves and shot when some refused.

Approximately one-quarter of the civilian population died due to the invasion and Japanese brutality.

Now Okinawa is a giant military base where WMD are stored and putting the health and lives of the Ryuyuan people at risk.

An independent Ryukyuan Republic will aim to get rid of the American bases which only makes the Okinawan people targets of another brutal and disastrous war that the Ryukyuan people have nothing to do with.

Nobumasa S.

mike said...

"Christine O'Donnell is beyond disgusting."

Perhaps, but she's got a long way to descend before she matches Obama and his attendance at a certain church.

"Every married man knows it: the more women in a group, the smarter it is."

Well I can certainly understand why it might seem that way to you Turton.

Michael Turton said...

Nobumasa, it doesn't look like you'll get your wish, though. China wants to eat Okinawa at some point. How do you plan to achieve an independent Republic with the US and Japanese blessing and keep China away from you? It's the same problem we face in Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

"China wants to eat Okinawa at some point."

How? Hire James Bond? LOL!


Anonymous said...

You may be higher brow than this, but this is just SOOOO funny I'm sure you can find some way to to show this little ditty off!


Anonymous said...

Aw, come on people! Okinawa? REALLY?!? You are drifting way off into conspiracy territory here.

Michael Turton said...

Yes, really. Try listening to what the nationalists on the Chinese side say. You might learn something.

Anonymous said...

How do you annex >1 million people, that belong to a rich 120 Million Nation, which has a security treaty with the richest and most powerful nation in the world, and on top of that in the nuclear age, Micheal?

On other news, I heard the US never flew to the moon!