Friday, September 21, 2007

Air Time: Campaign Heats Up

KMT control of the media is instrumental in the party's continued dominance at the local level, but at the national level, where people tend to vote their political identities, it has not paid off as handsomely. To rectify this, the KMT has decided to buy air time in the south:

In the past, media control was an important instrument of social control for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). This is why the party's media companies -- the China Television Co, the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC), the Central Motion Picture Corp, the Central Daily News and the Chunghwa Daily were among the last companies the party owned.

On the surface, the KMT has privatized these companies, but even now doubt remains about their inside workings and who is calling the shots. The KMT has loosened its control over the media with its right hand, but is still trying to manipulate it with its left.

To weaken the political influence of pan-green radio stations in the south, the KMT announced this week it would "fight radio stations with radio stations" by signing contracts with 20 broadcasters in central and southern Taiwan. This will allow the party to buy air time to broadcast a "balanced report." This is the start of a broadcasting war between the two political parties in the south.

KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yi said the political views of some of the underground radio stations in the south were extreme. After Ma Ying-jeou became the party's presidential candidate, for example, many of these stations broadcast a rumor that farmers' pensions would be abolished. The lie was widely broadcast and believed by many to be true. But the KMT did not simply correct the mistake. Rather, it decided to pull the media's strings itself -- something in which it is all too well versed -- by purchasing air time.

The Taipei Times argued that this strategy was probably bound to be unsuccessful and may even backfire by peeving potentially apathetic DPP supporters through subjecting them to KMT nonsense.

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