Media Release: Taiwan

December 11, 2008

Government Interference Puts Strain on Taiwan Public Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) holds grave concerns for the status of independent public media in Taiwan after the country's legislature announced increased control of funds, news reporting and programming of the national public television network.

According to media reports, on December 9 the Educational and Cultural Affairs Committee and the Interior Affairs Committee of the Legislative Yuan approved resolutions proposed by the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to enforce strict regulations on the operation and programming of the Taiwan Public Television Service (PTS). The service includes Hakka Television, Indigenous Television and the China Television Service.

The move comes one year after the legislature froze NT$450 million (about US$14 million) in funding for all programs under the auspices of the Public Service Television Foundation. The freeze affects half of the PTS annual budget.

In a statement on December 10, PTS said the new regulations, under which four of its channels could only disburse programming and production budgets after "item-by-item government approval", were "unjustified interference in our independence".

It had sought but failed to gain a clear explanation from government bodies of the rationale for the freeze.

"The Taiwan Government's efforts to exert strict controls on public television is a significant setback for Taiwan's media profession, whose ability to provide independent information and commentary to the general public is increasingly restricted," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"Journalism conducted in the spirit of public service is one of the pillars of democratic freedom. Heavy regulation of public media will undermine the right to freedom of expression of Taiwan, and thus the country's democracy."

The IFJ calls for an independent review of the resolutions passed by Taiwan's legislature and an investigation into the reasons for blocking funding to PTS.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

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